The presidents of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, and Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, met this Thursday (16) on the border between the two countries, in the states of Norte de Santander and Táchira, to sign a trade agreement. This was the third meeting between the leaders since Petro came to the Presidency in August 2022 and decided to resume diplomatic relations with the neighboring country.
According to a statement, the agreement signed aims at “totally opening the border” and combating irregular migratory and commercial crossings that have been taking place since the crossings were closed.
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“For the Colombian-Venezuelan border, the agreements reached will mean closing the social gap that had deepened in terms of poverty, unemployment, income and fundamentally will promote accelerated productive complementation, job creation and more social security for citizens “, said the presidents in a note.
Petro and Maduro also signed a preliminary agreement signed by Caracas and Bogotá at the beginning of the month, which aims to establish a legal framework for joint border investments and strengthen the trade balance between the countries.
Between 2018 and 2019, the trade flow between countries recorded the worst drop in the last 20 years and in 2020 activities reached the lowest levels of the last two decades. The Venezuelan economic crisis and the rupture of relations induced by former right-wing Colombian president Iván Duque were the main causes of the reduction in trade between Colombia and Venezuela.
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Now, with normalized relations and new trade agreements, the countries intend to stimulate bilateral business. Historically a country that imports consumer goods, Venezuela hopes to find sources in its neighbor to supply its internal demand. Colombia, on the other hand, seeks advantages in the trade of Venezuelan gas and urea.
“We are in a new phase of building relations in every sense and our economic and trade relations, although they have not reached the point we had hoped for, are growing at a good pace and with good dynamics,” said Maduro during the meeting.
The presidents also mentioned the proposal to establish a Special Economic Zone on the border, which would create customs and financial facilities to attract companies from both countries.
“We have to fill these bridges with commerce, remove the barriers for these commerce. We also have to fill these bridges with people, so that they can pass and cross without fear”, said Petro.
Editing: Thales Schmidt