President Maduro and President Petro Sign Trade Agreement, Resume Full Relations

Orinoco Tribune, February 17, 2023 — This Thursday, February 16, the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, signed the Partial Scope Trade Agreement No. 28. The signing of this memorandum of understanding ratifies the resumption of full relations between Colombia and Venezuela at all levels.

President Maduro arrived this Thursday afternoon, accompanied by his wife and Deputy Cilia Flores, Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, and by members of his cabinet. After arriving at the Santo Domingo airport, in the state of Táchira, they crossed the Atanasio Girardot “Tienditas” bridge on the Colombian side of the border to meet with President Petro.

President Maduro stated that bilateral relations have been taking on a new dynamic in all aspects, recalling that they gave the order to open all the border crossings in the country to strengthen relations with Colombia.

“Our relations are setting a good pace,” he said, “the signing of this trade agreement, which updates tariffs, products to exchange, priorities, laid the foundations for the expansion of binational trade.”

He also noted that the Venezuela of today is very different from that of 2011 when the binational exchange agreement was originally signed. “We imported everything, we had an oil checkbook, we had 100 years with that dynamic, there were petrodollars to bring everything in.”

“The Venezuela of 2011,” Maduro added, “had net oil income of $56 billion, an oil checkbook to take out and buy what had to be bought in the world, we imported 80% or 85% of everything, shoes, shirts, cars, onions, potatoes, meats, whatever.”

“Today the situation is structurally different,” he said, “because Venezuela is subjected to a blockade, economic, commercial, financial persecution, illegal and immoral sanctions, which hit the (economic) structure, the backbone of national income. We went from $56 billion in one year, to $700 million the next year, and the year that ended we reached perhaps close to $5 billion, barely 10% of what the country’s income was four or six years ago.”

President Maduro explained that as a consequence of this situation, a plan for a war economy was designed, and actions were taken to create new systems, exchange and commercial, to stimulate national production.

He recalled that at the end of 2022 Venezuela achieved significant economic growth of 15% of GDP, “and for the first time in 100 years, non-oil GDP grows more than oil GDP, a sign of recovery—and although the body is still subjected to relentless torture through financial and commercial persecution, through sanctions, through the blockade, the economy shows signs of life, that it wants to live.”

Heading for the special economic zone
President Maduro, enthusiastic about the commercial growth between the two countries, commented on the proposal of Governor Freddy Bernal, who promoted the idea of ​​a binational economic zone of common development between the states of Norte de Santander and Táchira, of Colombia and Venezuela respectively. “I believe that this agreement creates the basis for us to take steps in that direction,” concluded the Venezuelan president.

He proposed this Thursday to form a team, together with the mayors and governors of the region, to accelerate the creation of a binational economic zone.

Maduro stated that the monetary problem between Norte de Santander and Táchira has already been resolved. “There is only one currency for commercial activity,” he said. “One of the things that we learned by walking, marching, receiving the blows of criminal sanctions, is that a war economy model is a multi-currency model.”

“I think we should check the figures, so that we can begin to project and devise what would perhaps be a gigantic historical step, the creation of that Binational Economic Zone of Shared Development between Norte de Santander and Táchira,” Maduro insisted on Petro. “It would be the first step to unite the immense wealth and the immense economic strength that the Colombian and Venezuelan border has.”

Below is the unofficial translation of the Partial Scope Trade Agreement No. 28 between Colombia and Venezuela:

  • Total opening of the border for the union between Colombia and Venezuela that achieves a consistent political, institutional, and social framework.
  • Presidents Nicolás Maduro Moros and Gustavo Petro Urrego have managed to rebuild the historic relations of brotherhood and cooperation between our peoples in six months, overcoming almost seven years of darkness and absence of diplomatic, economic, commercial, and social relations.
  • In just 3 months, the Partial Scope Agreement AAP No. 28 that defines trade relations was updated. And for the first time, an Investment Protection and Promotion Treaty was signed between the two countries.
  • The foregoing events strengthen not only our commercial and investment relations, but the most essential things: institutionality and legal security for our economic and social agents.
  • For the Colombian-Venezuelan border, the agreements reached will mean the closing of the social gap that had deepened in terms of poverty, unemployment and income; fundamentally, they will promote in an accelerated manner the productive and service complementation, the creation of employment, and a greater social security for binational citizens in a context of social justice and promotion of peace.
  • We continue paving the way for the installation of a binational economic zone, which will give impetus to the great productive capacities of the border region.
  • We are more committed than ever to overcome and leave behind the adversities derived from interests unrelated to the well-being of our peoples, to open space for the place that history has reserved for Colombia and Venezuela, and for the happiness of our peoples.

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