Venezuela could substitute
everything it buys from Colombia with imports from other
countries, a top official said on Thursday, escalating a feud
that will likely slash the US$7 billion of trade they share.
President Hugo Chavez is furious with Colombia for accusing
Venezuela of supporting guerrilla fighters across the border
and over a deal to increase U.S. access to Colombian military
Trade Minister Eduardo Saman said he saw no difficulties in
replacing Colombian meat, cars and chemicals with alternatives
bought from countries such as Brazil or Argentina.
“If Colombia does not rectify itself regarding the military
bases, within one year we could replace pretty much all the
trade,” Saman told Reuters.
Commerce between the two countries, which share a
1,375-mile (2,200-km) border, has soared in recent years as
Venezuelan producers failed to keep up with growing consumer
demand on the back of an oil bonanza.
In 2008, mutual trade reached a record $7 billion.
Venezuela has already signed contracts worth more than a
billion dollars for Argentine products since the feud flared up
in July. A large delegation of Brazilian businessmen was in
Caracas on Thursday.
Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer said on Thursday it was
negotiating a deal worth about $700 million to sell 20 aircraft
to Venezuela commercial airlines. (Reuters)