CARACAS (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Colombian President Gustavo Petro signed a partial agreement on Thursday that establishes the legal framework that will govern the recently reactivated bilateral trade relations, which were interrupted for almost seven years as a result of political tensions.
The partial agreement, in essence, updates a series of rules and procedures related to preferential tariff treatment, sanitary and phytosanitary standards or the dispute resolution mechanism inherent to the development and increase in the exchange of goods and services, among other economic activities. common.RELATED
The original agreement was signed more than a decade ago by the governments of Caracas and Bogotá.
This is a “partial agreement that is one more step towards integration, which in my opinion should never have been suspended,” Petro said at the Atanasio Girardot bridge inaugurated on January 1st, almost seven years after the construction work was completed. “There is still a lot to do,” he stressed.
The bridge, known as Tienditas and which cost 32 million dollars, was financed by both countries to expedite vehicle traffic, saturated in the first two binational bridges that link the Norte de Santander department of Colombia with the Venezuelan state of Táchira, about 750 kilometers west of Caracas.
Maduro, for his part, stressed that the legal instrument places both countries on the “path of work, productivity, and economic and commercial growth.”
Maduro added, without giving details, that the agreement also lays the foundations for the creation of a Special Economic Zone between Venezuela and Colombia.
With the coming to power of Petro —the first left-wing president in Colombia— last August 2022, diplomatic and commercial relations with Caracas were reestablished. His predecessor Iván Duque (2018-2022) called Nicolás Maduro a “dictator”.
Colombia was part of the block of 50 countries that came to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who in 2019 declared himself interim president when he served as head of the National Assembly, arguing that Maduro had been re-elected in 2018 in fraudulent elections.
International support for Guaidó waned significantly over the years, and even his former opposition allies in the Assembly terminated the interim government figure in December.
Bilateral trade resumed last September, when the passage of cargo vehicles through the Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander bridges was opened; but commercial exchange has been timid in part due to the absence of a legal scaffolding to accompany the reactivation of relations.
With the opening of the third bridge in the area, it was agreed to allow the permanent passage of international cargo and passenger transport, despite the fact that the latter was initially postponed.