CARACAS, Tuesday November 20, 2012 | Update

Venezuela-Colombia trade agreement comes into effect

Domestic authorities have streamlined the customs system

Road serviceability and security, among others, impact trade on the border (File photo)
Tuesday November 20, 2012  08:55 AM

The Management of the Main Customs at San Antonio del Táchira (Venezuela's Andean region) advised the Venezuelan-Colombian Chamber of Economic Integration (Cavecol) that beginning on Tuesday the Partial Extent Agreement (AAP) entered into by and between Venezuela and Colombia is effective.

The agreement, initialed one year ago by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos, came into effect on October 19 with regard to trade from Colombia to Venezuela. Previously, Colombian authorities had streamlined the technology customs systems and apprised the Latin American Integration Association (Aladi) of the terms of the text agreed upon by both countries.

Cavecol informed its associates that according to government authorities, the Automated Customs System (Sidunea) was refitted. Venezuela embraced the new terms and conditions of AAP one month later than Colombia.

The agreement is the legal framework in connection with trade between the two countries following Venezuela's departure from the Andean Community (CAN). It is aimed at consolidating the preferential treatment afforded in bilateral trade, based on the historical trends between these nations in 2006-2010. As a result, all goods that were traded in that period have been included.

In practice

The president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Production at San Antonio del Táchira, Isabel Castillo, was lavish in praising the agreement.

"I wish the trade agreement will be reasonably enforced in the border area, to the benefit and progress of both countries," she cherished.

Over the last years, the official lamented, "the region has been harmed by macroeconomic measures that damage industries and traders."

Castillo commented that security measures are excessive. "We are keenly aware that smuggling should be avoided and the area should be safeguarded. However, the inspection of cargo transport causes large queues and delays the passage of commodities. There is no infrastructure to energize these processes; nor are roads that appropriate."
Whose victim am I?

They are marching in step to the same tune. There is a coordinated effort to position the idea. The Twitter hashtag  #YoSoyVictimaDeLaGuarimba (I'm a victim of "guarimbas", or protest barricades) can be read on all pro-government Twitter accounts, including those of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the National Assembly's Press Office, the state-run food distribution network PDVAL, state airline Conviasa, the Venezuelan embassies in foreign countries, radio stations and the huge media network responsive to the Government's interests and messages.

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