Colombia’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism Sergio Diaz-Granados announced Thursday that Venezuela will repay $336.2 million of the debt it owes Colombia, reports Dinero.
Diaz-Granados said $193.1 million will be paid for regular exports, $75.5 million will be paid under the Convention of Reciprocal Payments, and $67.6 million will go to Colombian airlines. Venezuelan importers have also sent documents to Colombian companies certifying $149.2 million in debt, the first step in the process of paying back the funds. The $336.2 million being paid plus the $149.2 to be authorized make up a sum of $485.5 million, just over half the total debt Venezuela owes Colombia.
Businesses in the coastal region of Colombia said they feel as if they are being “left until last” in the repayment of the debts, but companies in Cartagena, Barranquilla and Monteria register lower debts than companies in Bogota, Medellin, and Cali. Companies in Bogota are owned the most money, $274 million, followed by Medellin with $171 and Cali with $136.
The minister said the payment of the debts are important part of trade integration and a productive relationship between the two neighboring countries.
Regional director for Colombia’s export guild Analdex in the Atlantic, Luis Eduardo Blanco, said the payments have been too slow.
“More than anything it is the portfolio in the sectors of agribusiness and textiles. And that hurts trade, employment and the life of these companies,” Blanco said. He added that most of the debts have been paid in the airline sector, leaving food, textiles and apparel without their share of the money.
Venezuela froze debt payment after clashes between President Hugo Chavez and his then-Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe. Following attempts to normalize relations under the administration of Juan Manuel Santos, the socialist country vowed to repay the debt. After the re-establishment of ties, Venezuela announced that it would begin repaying the $800 million debt it owes to Colombia. Venezuela made the first payment of $70 million to the Colombian airlines Avianca and Aires.