Colombia’s Trade, Industry and Tourism Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados traveled to Venezuela Monday to negotiate a free trade agreement with the neighboring country, which blocked Colombian imports in 2009, EFE reports.
“We have said that we want a trade which is as broad as possible, with stable rules. And they [Venezuela] have said that want a trade which is managed, equitable and fair,” the minister said on the weekend.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said in October that he expected a Venezuelan-Colombian trade agreement to be finalized by April 2011.
Santos and Chavez met in Santa Marta on August 10 to begin to normalize relations between the two countries, which had been in a period of crisis since Colombia signed a military agreement with the U.S. in 2009.
Venezuela was Colombia’s second biggest export market until Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez blocked imports from the neighboring country in 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 consequence of the ban.
Venezuelan importers built up an $800 million debt to Colombian while trade restrictions were in place.