Colombian exports to Venezuela to fall over 60% this year: Central Bank

Exports to Venezuela will fall to US$1.5 billion in 2010, from more than US$4 billion in 2009, the president of Colombia’s Central Bank said Monday. Because of this, the bank expects Colombia’s economy to grow less than other countries in the region.

In an interview with newspaper El Espectador, Central Bank President Jose Dario Uribe said that Colombian export businesses have already begun to deal with countries outside its traditional primary markets, the United States and Venezuela, and that there has been an increase in the income generated from these new partners.

However, a trade ban imposed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is impeding Colombia’s economy from picking up at the same rate as those of Chile, Brazil and Peru.

“We are seeing a collapse in exports to that country and it wouldn’t be strange if in 2010 we export US$1.5 billion or less, which is a serious blow. In 2008 we exported a little more than US$6 billion and last year we ended just above US$4 billion,” Uribe told El Espectador.

But Venezuela’s informal trade ban is not the only thing putting downward pressure on exports to that country, Uribe said.

“The Venezuelan economy showed a negative growth [of 2.9%] in 2009, and many analysts predict negative growth for this year. Another thing is the devaluation of the bolivar; and not just the official one,” said the Central Bank president.

Uribe also expects this year’s Congressional elections in March and the Presidential elections in May to affect the economy. The uncertainty about what the economic policy of the next government will be generally slows down investment, says Uribe.

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