Colombia president sees potential for 5 pct growth in 2014

BOGOTA, April 14 Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:25pm EDT

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BOGOTA, April 14 (Reuters) - Colombia's economy could grow around 5 percent in 2014, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Monday, more than the official government target of 4.7 percent and above last year's 4.3 percent expansion.

"We're going quickly and I hope that if this pace keeps up, the growth figure this year will be around 5 percent," Santos told reporters while commenting on data published on Monday that showed a 2.8 percent pick-up in industrial production in February versus a year earlier and 6.7 percent rise in retail sales.

Santos, who will run for re-election on May 25, cautioned that he would not offer any firm figure as an estimate but referred to the estimates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Colombia's central bank, which have forecast growth of 4.5 percent or a little more.

He said the Andean nation is likely to have achieved a good level of growth in the first quarter of the year although data for economic activity in March is not yet available.

The investor appeal of the world's fourth-biggest coal exporter and major producer of arabica coffee has risen in the last few weeks after J.P. Morgan raised its weighting of Colombian government bonds in two of its key indexes - a sign of confidence amid steady growth and low inflation. (Reporting by Monica Garcia; Writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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