With the reopening of the formal crossings in Táchira State to binational trade between Venezuela and Colombia, during the last six months the Colombian side has achieved formality in the operations between the two countries, largely due to the international trade sector demands to the Colombian government requesting the elimination of the passage of goods through illegal paths.
Luz Dary Depablos // Correspondent lapatilla.com
Since September 2022, when operations over international bridges resumed, the figures for trade between Táchira and Norte de Santander have increased significantly, with Colombia benefiting the most since administrative processes continue to be very cumbersome on the Venezuelan side.
Sandra Guzmán, representative of the Colombian Federation of Logistics Agents of International Trade (Fitac) Cúcuta chapter, reported that of the bilateral trade operations of more than 50 million (U.S.) dollars between September and February, “we have moved 59 thousand tons of cargo between exports and imports in 2,400 vehicles that have crossed over the border, that is, 620 vehicles only for imports and 1,780 for exports.”
She pointed out that with the first operations in September, Colombia exported 151 tons to Venezuela in items that represented more than 282,000 dollars, and Venezuela exported 314 tons to Colombia, for a total of 215,000 dollars.
She explained that Venezuela has only exported ferrous material (iron/steel and scrap) and aluminum coils (which is why the tonnage grows), while medical supplies, food, and sweets have been exported from Colombia to Venezuela.
For the month of October, exports from Colombia to Venezuela increased from 282,000 to 2,200,000 dollars, that is, from 151 tons to 1,495 tons They consisted mainly of perishable products and the family food basket, a rise that in her opinion happened because “trust began to be created and the exchange began to take shape,” said Sandra Guzmán.
Likewise, she emphasized that “in November and December the was higher, since in November with the visit of Gustavo Petro, there was an impact due to the binding dialogues, because the Minister of Industry and Tourism (close to the international trade sector) was required to ensure that the illegal trails (paths, crossings) were closed definitively.”
She assured that: “the effort that had been made to open binational crossings did not make any sense if informal trade was maintained through irregular crossings.”
Unfavorable balance sheet
Venezuela only showed a slight increase in its exports to Colombia: from 215,000 dollars to 351,000 dollars, from 314 tons to 844 tons, mainly due to the activation of coal exports from Lobatera.
Having “tightened” surveillance of the irregular crossings in the month of November represented an increase in exports from Colombia to Venezuela of 2,197,000 dollars to 8,620,000 dollars, while Venezuela maintained its exports to Colombia at 560,000 dollars.
During December exports from Colombia to Venezuela rose from 8,620,000 dollars to 13,000,000 dollars,” this was reflected mostly in family basket items, because it continues to be what Venezuela most requires and demands in this moment,” said the representative of Fitac.
However, for the month of January there was a marked decrease in operations: from 13,000,000 dollars down to 7,000,000 dollars, which according to Sandra Guzman, “is typical at the beginning of the year, an event associated with vacations, and the Fairs and Festivals of San Sebastián (in San Cristóbal, Venezuela).”
During the month of February the exchange began to increase again, since it exceeded 12,000,000 dollars in exports from Colombia to Venezuela, “we see normal growth as in previous months,” she said.
The representative of the customs sector in the city of Cúcuta stated that exports from Colombia to Venezuela is close to about some 44 million dollars (total), “merchandise that has been handled legally with the payment of dues, money that is now entering the Colombian State and also meeting the requirements as the merchandise leaves complying with all of Colombia’s customs and sanitary regulations.
In addition, she stressed that: “it is up to Venezuela to demand them or not to demand them. The tariff headings say: if the country where the goods are going to arrive requires the approval of the Colombian Agricultural Institute (Ica), National Institute of Medicines and Food Surveillance (Invima), process these to export, but if these are not required, you can export without these two approvals. So it is up to Venezuela to control the entry of these products which are for human consumption and demand the issue of Ica or Invima so that the merchandise that enters Venezuela is completely trustworthy for consumption by Venezuelans.”
From September to February, Colombia has exported some 44,000,000 dollars to Venezuela, while Venezuela has only exported 6,000,000 dollars to Colombia, that is, Colombia has exported seven times more than Venezuela.
Deepening of Apecol No. 28
With the “deepening of Partial Agreement No. 028, which was left under decision 1 of the Complementarity Agreement of the two countries”, which according to the representative of Fitac, was filed in the Latin American Free Trade Association (Aladi), while it is still expected that this organization approve agreement and for it to become operational, so for now the two countries will continue trading under Apecol No. 28 that has in force since 2011, annexes that were signed in 2012.
Sandra Guzman pointed out that the deepening of Apecol No. 028, which was signed with the meeting between Gustavo Petro and Nicolás Maduro on February 16th, at the Atanasio Girardort international bridge, “favors and disadvantages” (sic) binational trade operations.
“There were tariff items that did not pay anything under Apecol No. 028 and at that time they were paying a percentage,” she said.
In addition to the items that did not remain under Apecol No. 28, and which will not have total exoneration and “remained taxed, and there are also taxed items that were removed from the agreement and others that were included. This is not yet in force, we must wait for Aladi to endorse this bilateral decision that Colombia and Venezuela made with the signature at the ‘Tienditas’ bridge,” she pointed out.
The representative of the customs sector aspires that by the end of the first semester of this year, the commercial exchange between Táchira and Norte de Santander will exceed 600,000,000 dollars.
“That is the goal that the minister set for us, to increase formality, to invite the informal sector to carry out the formal procedures.”
She also indicated that in the city of Cúcuta some 200 new jobs have been created.She also highlighted that the city has been more dynamic within the formality.
“The city has benefited from the increase in international trade operations in terms of restaurants, hotels, and the sale of food,” she concluded.