Colombia’s Trade Minister says that bilateral trade with Venezuela will never be restored to its level of before the diplomatic crisis in 2009.
“Clearly trade with Venezuela will never be what it was in the past,” Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados told Reuters.
“The Venezuela with which we will work in the coming years is very different from the one we have worked with in the last 10 or 15 years,” said the official. “It is good to respect what they want and thus be able to reach an approximation of some kind of commercial relationship.”
Venezuela was Colombia’s second biggest export market until Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez blocked imports from the neighboring country in late 2009, in response to Colombia’s signing of an agreement governing U.S. access to Colombian military bases.
Colombia’s exports to its neighbor dropped 77% between January 2009 and January 2010 as a direct consequence of the ban.
Venezuelan importers built up an $800 million debt to Colombian while trade restrictions were in place.
In the interview, Diaz-Granados told Reuters that $72 million of this debt has already been paid back to Colombian exporters.