Colombia's exports tumble in March and first quarter
BOGOTA May 8 (Reuters) - Colombia's exports shrank 20 percent by value in March and 9.5 percent in the first three months of the year, a significant drop that the government on Wednesday blamed on lower prices and reduced demand for oil and coal.
The government's DANE statistics agency said the value of oil exports fell 9.2 percent in March versus the same month last year, even though they increased by 5.4 percent in volume.
The value of the country's coal exports decreased 75.6 percent in the third month of the year.
Colombia is the world's No. 4 coal exporter and output in the first few months of the year was hit by labor disputes, an incident at a key coal port and a temporary suspension of night transportation at a coal railway.
The value of coffee exports from the world's top exporter of high-quality arabica beans decreased 38.1 percent in March.
Coal and coffee are the top foreign currency earners after oil and key drivers for economic growth, which is slowing.
Economic growth in 2012 amounted to 4 percent, down from 6.6 percent in 2011.
The government forecasts economic growth at 4.8 percent this year, while the Central Bank sees the economy expanding 4.3 percent.