The presidents of Colombia and Venezuela pledged Saturday to invest
$100 million each in a special fund in hopes of boosting cross-border
trade as the world economic crisis slashes global demand for their
The cash will help create small businesses and should finance
infrastructure projects along the border, Venezuelan President Hugo
Chávez said after four hours of talks in the Caribbean port of
Cartagena with his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe.
“Nobody knows where this crisis might go,” Chávez told a televised news conference.
between the two nations reached a record $7.2 billion in 2008, and
Chavez said they should aim for $10 billion a year in 2009 and 2010.
Both neighbors are looking to prevent the global slowdown from crimping
commerce and spurring unemployment.
Once-rapid growth in
Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy is slowing with falling crude prices,
while Colombia has seen textile and coffee sales fall. Caracas is
Colombia’s biggest trade partner after the U.S., making it especially
vulnerable to a slowdown in Venezuela.
The presidents also
discussed ways to spur primary manufacturing so car components can be
made locally from the region’s natural resources, reducing reliance on
imports, Chávez added.
Venezuela agreed to consider easing quotas
on Colombian automobile imports, including trucks, buses and vehicles
that burn natural gas, Chávez said. (AP)