* IMF calls Colombia’s outlook positive and promising
* Says its fiscal deficits “more than manageable”
BOGOTA, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Colombia’s economy will likely expand by 4.5 percent or more next year, similar to growth levels in 2012, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday.
Latin America’s No. 4 economy expanded at a brisk 5.9 percent last year but growth in 2012 and next year is expected to take a hit from the euro zone crisis and slower world economic growth, which has forced its central bank to cut rates this year.
“The economic outlook for Colombia is positive and promising. We expect growth in 2012 to be slightly lower, or at, 4.5 percent and probably the same, if not a little bit better, for 2013,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.
She added that many countries were “envious” of Colombia’s macroeconomic numbers. Lagarde met with President Juan Manuel Santos, the finance minister and the central bank chief on a two-day trip to Colombia’s capital.
Colombia’s government expects economic expansion of 4.8 percent for both this year and next.
The Andean country has attracted billions of dollars in foreign direct investment over the past decade, boosting oil and coal output after U.S. military aid helped security forces deal crippling blows to leftist guerrillas and cocaine cartels.
Colombia’s ability to withstand outside shocks and security advances helped the country clinch three investment-grade credit ratings from major Wall Street agencies last year.
Since taking office in 2010, Santos has pushed through a range of constitutional and other reforms, including a fiscal rule and a change to the way oil and mining revenues are distributed to tackle Colombia’s stubborn fiscal deficits.