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Cocaine is expected to soon overtake oil as Colombia's biggest export

Cocaine is expected to soon overtake oil as Colombia's biggest export

The illicit substance's trade is steadily increasing in the country.

Colombia is known for many things.

It's the second most biodiverse country in the world (after Brazil), it's the only country in South America that has coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, its Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta are the world’s highest coastal mountain range, they are the world’s leading source of emeralds and also the third largest exporter of coffee in the world.

The country is also responsible for the likes of Shakira, Sofia Vergara, Maluma, and J Balvin.

However, unfortunately, Colombia also has a big reputation for being one of the biggest exporters of cocaine.

And, if the nation keeps going the way it's going, the illicit white substance will soon become its biggest export.

Colombia's largest export at the moment is oil, however the black liquid posted a drop of 30 per cent in the first half of the year, according to Bloomberg.

RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP via Getty Images

Pair that with the cocaine trade's steadily increasing presence, then you find yourself in an awkward situation.

A record 1,738 tons of the white stuff was produced in Colombia last year and the land being used for coca leaf plantation has also been widened by 13 per cent.

There are more than 230,000 hectares of land being used by the cartels to manufacture coca leaves, which contains the active cocaine alkaloid that helps produce the powder.

The UN recently revealed in a report that almost two-thirds of the coca crops are found in the provinces of Nariño and Putumayo.

Bloomberg economist Felipe Hernandez wrote: "We estimate cocaine export revenues jumped to $18.2 billion in 2022 — not far behind oil exports of $19.1 billion last year.

"The government is destroying laboratories where coca leaves are manufactured into cocaine, but that hasn’t prevented production from expanding.”

The problem with cocaine being a big exporter is that doesn't translate to a better overall economy.

Bloomberg notes that while the illicit industry has been getting bigger, there has been no change to the value of the peso.

The outlet didn't indicate when cocaine could overtake oil as the biggest exporter.

Colombia's leader, Gustavo Petro, has been targeting the big-name cartels who run the operation rather than punishing the coca leaf farmers.

Featured Image Credit: LUIS ROBAYO/AFP via Getty Images.

Topics: Drugs