Colombia’s ambassador to Venezuela Maria Luisa Chiappe says that the restoration of ties between the two countries is a “priority,” as Colombia is seeking to revive bilateral trade with its neighbor.
“The issue of the relationship with Venezuela is a priority for Colombia, for the government, for the Congress,” Chiappe said in an interview with Venezuela’s Globovision.
The two leaders agreed to restore economic ties after a year of frozen trade, following tensions over Colombia’s cross-border raid in Ecuador and Bogota‘s signing of an agreement allowing the U.S. use Colombian military bases.
Colombian businesses have felt the squeeze of the trade ban, with exports to Venezuela down an estimated 70%.
The “road map” to full restoration will be developed by five committees, to be established by Venezuelan and Colombian Foreign Ministers Nicolas Maduro and Maria Angela Holguin in Caracas Friday.
The committees will be primarily concerned with matters of “border security, trade and infrastructure,” according to Chiappe, who added that the issue of the $800 million owed to Colombians by Venezuelan importers will be high on the agenda.
“Few Colombian exporters will want to do deals if the outstanding debt is not settled,” said the ambassador.
Trade between the neighboring countries stood at $7 billion in 2008, but tumbled to $4.6 billion the following year and is predicted to be just $2 billion in 2010.