The latest edition of the report Competitiveness Ranking for the Departments of Colombia (Spanish only), a periodic publication of the Bogota Office of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), reveals the growing importance of factors related to human capital and science, technology and innovation in the configuration of regional competitiveness.
Colombia’s 32 departments progress at different paces and, as a result, some have reached greater economic prosperity and social well-being while others lag behind, said the study, which for the first time incorporates the departments of Vichada, Guainia and Vaupes.
The Ranking classifies the departments according to eight levels, from leaders to stragglers. The group of leaders is headed by the department of Cundinamarca, which also includes Bogota, the country’s capital. This is followed by Antioquia and its capital Medellin; Caldas and Risaralda (and their capitals Manizales and Pereira), which are part of the Coffee Belt; Santander and its capital Bucaramanga; and Valle del Cauca, whose capital is Cali. These departments are recognized for their major contributions to the national economy and their dense metropolitan areas.
The cities that stand out in the high-level group are Atlantico (Barranquilla), Quindio (Armenia) and Boyaca (Tunja), followed by Meta (Villavicencio), Bolivar (Cartagena), Tolima (Ibague), Norte de Santander (Cucuta), Huila (Neiva) and San Andres Islas. In the intermediate group are Casanare (Yopal), Cesar (Valledupar), Magdalena (Santa Marta), Nariño (Pasto), Cauca (Popayan), Sucre (Sincelejo) and Cordoba (Monteria).
The cities that rank lower are Caqueta (Florencia), La Guajira (Riohacha) and Arauca; while the stragglers are Choco (Quibdo) and the geographically isolated and institutionally fragile Amazonian departments (Amazonas, Putumayo, Guaviare, Vichada, Guainia and Vaupes), which are immersed in a mostly rural context and have considerable jungle areas.
The report also presents short- and long-term competitiveness trends and for each of the factors. These dynamic behaviors are used to classify the departments in another five groups: “winners,” “emerging,” “stable,” “stagnant,” and “losers.”
Between 2000 and 2015, Caldas was the only department to be a winner in competitiveness, while Bolivar, Cesar, Magdalena and Meta ranked as emerging. Valle del Cauca and Huila were stagnant and Choco and La Guajira were at the losing level. The remaining departments were stable, which points to a high structural inertia that hinders convergence in development gaps.
The analysis concludes that the departments with less competitiveness should stimulate specialization, while those classified at intermediate or high levels should put emphasis on their weak dimensions to accumulate developments with more widespread, structured and related capacities.