The impact of Venezuela’s trade embargo against Colombia is increasingly evident in Colombia’s eastern border cities, according to comments by several regional chambers of commerce.
The hardest hit industry has been meat exports. Venezuela is said to have caused $70 million in losses to Colombia’s meat industry. In October 2009, Colombia’s frozen meats and offal exports reportedly dropped 97.6%, while livestock exports dropped 97.3%. According to the head of the largest meat-packing co-op in the Santander department, which borders Venezuela, about 40,000 tons of meat are stuck in limbo in customs storage, after being blocked out of Venezuela’s market.
The trade embargo has also struck a heavy blow against the job market in border towns. The president of Santander’s clay producers association said that the industry has lost 7,000 jobs, with between 35 and 40 small businesses forced to shut down. The clay industry’s productive capacity also dropped by 80%, he added.
The numbers are grim in the Norte de Santander department as well. The local economy there has reportedly lost $500 million either directly or indirectly due to the trade blockade. According to the president of the chamber of commerce of Cucuta, usually an important commercial city because its proximity with Venezuela, business registration is down 40%.
Colombian exports to Venezuela dropped 35% last year, according to one statistical agency. While Chavez has said he wants to normalize relations with Colombia, both countries have made moves towards finding new trading partners.