The rejection of the Colombian government’s historic peace deal with the left-wing Farc rebel group, decided by a 50.24% ‘No’ vote in a popular referendum, has thrown the country’s political and economic future into uncertainty.

Prior to the vote, state leaders were talking up the predicted increase in growth and investment that would come as a result of peace. The vote came after more than 50 years of guerilla warfare, during which an estimated 260,000 people were killed and more than 6 million displaced. Government and rebel leaders have spent the past four years negotiating a peace settlement.


Hopes of an economic boost following the pre-vote signing of the treaty between president Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez proved to be premature, with many international observers confident of the deal’s passage left in shock.

Despite positive economic growth in the past few years, Colombia’s financial situation leaves it vulnerable to further political turbulence. Inflation in the country is running at 9%, and there is a rapidly growing fiscal deficit. Colombia’s major revenue and FDI sectors have also suffered as a result of China’s slow growth and falling global demand for commodities, because it relies heavily on exports of oil, coal, gold and coffee. Further slowdown is predicted as the country adjusts to lower oil prices.

Starting in 2013, greenfield FDI project numbers have steadily fallen, according to monitor fDi Markets. The decade’s peak came in 2013 with 139 projects, followed by 96 in 2014 to date and 74 in 2015. The coal, oil and gas sector saw the highest investment by far in terms of capital expenditure.

“The vote is not only a major shock, but also introduces substantial uncertainty into Colombia’s economic outlook,” says Michael Camunez, CEO of ManattJones Global Strategies, a Latin America-focused advisory firm. “Investors crave certainty.  The rejection of the deal serves up just the opposite.  Despite what had otherwise looked like a very promising future, due not only to the deal but to the important economic reforms the country has made, Colombia’s economic future is now very uncertain at best.

“While many doubt the conflict will resume, the truth is no one really knows,” he adds. “If it does, it cannot bode well for a country that has worked so hard and sacrificed so much to attain what it has.”