Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos will seek to restore trade with Venezuela after taking office, his future finance minister, Juan Carlos Echeverry, told reporters Monday.
“What we will seek is to reestablish the most trade as possible, the soonest as possible,” Echeverry said. In the meantime, the Colombian government will try to help affected companies.
Following diplomatic conflicts between Colombia and Venezuela, the Venezuelan government all but shut the border to Colombian products in late 2009. Venezuela was once Colombia’s second-largest export market, but Colombian exports to the neighboring country have now fallen by about 70%.
Last week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez severed all ties with Colombia after the Colombian government accused Venezuela of offering haven to Colombian rebel fighters.
Meanwhile, while visiting Chilean President Sebastian Pinera as part of a Latin American tour, Santos said that although the “integration, trade and investments” between Colombia and Chile are strong, there is room to deepen those ties.
“[Pinera and I] also spoke about the importance of deepening the integration of the Pacific Rim nation,” Santos added.
Santos is scheduled to assume the Colombian presidency on Aug. 7, succeeding President Alvaro Uribe. (Inti Landauro / Dow Jones)