Following President Hugo Chavez’s ban on trade with Colombia, Venezuela is importing goods from the U.S. instead of from its neighbor, says the Venezuelan-Colombian Chamber of Commerce.
Meat, shoes, fabrics, clothes, pharmaceuticals and oils are among the goods that Venezuela is now importing from the U.S. rather than from Colombia, says the Chamber of Commerce president, Magdalena Pardo.
“Chavez’s government is contradicting itself when it says they are doing business with their neighbors, and in fact they are substituting our products with those from the U.S.,” she said in an interview with financial magazine La Republica.
The chamber calculates that exports to Venezuela dropped 33.4% in the second semester of 2009.
Colombian exports to Venezuela are expected to drop to $1.5 billion in 2010, from more than $4 billion in 2009. Colombia has had a troubled commercial relationship with neighboring Venezuela, since Chavez cut ties with the country in protest over a military agreement signed between Washington and Bogota.
The U.S. remains one of Venezuela’s most important trading partners, despite tensions between the two countries. In 2008, U.S. exports to Venezuela were worth $12.6 billion, while Venezuelan exports to the U.S. were worth $51.4 million, including an average of 1.2 million barrels of oil and petroleum products a day.