Presidents of Colombia and Venezuela meet at the border, sign new trade agreement

The new trade agreement further strengthens the bilateral trade between the two neighboring countries

February 18, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
On February 16, Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro signed a new trade agreement, strengthening the bilateral trade between the countries. Photo: Nicolás Maduro/Twitter

Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, on Thursday February 16, signed a new trade agreement, called the Partial Scope Agreement of a Commercial Nature No. 28. The agreement further strengthened the bilateral trade between the two neighboring countries. It was signed during a meeting held at the Tienditas International Bridge, an important vehicular and pedestrian border crossing connecting Colombia’s Norte de Santander department with the Venezuelan state of Táchira.

After the signing of the agreement, President Petro stressed that this agreement “is one more step towards integration” between the two sister nations, which, in his opinion, “should never have been suspended.” He added that the bridges between the countries must be filled, not only with trade, but with people, and the barriers that may still exist to this activity must be removed.

Petro said that due to being closed for years, the 2,200-kilometer-long common border between the two countries had fallen into the hands of “mafia groups, who, immersed in conflict and illegal economies, made it their domain.” “This cannot happen again, there must be legality here,” he added. In previous meetings, Petro and Maduro reached agreements on activating joint border security mechanisms for the protection of the border and of the people who will travel through it.

Petro concluded by stressing that he hopes the border transcends from becoming a line of separation to “the common point that unites the human beings who inhabit here and there, without barriers.”

For his part, President Maduro highlighted the importance of following the path of reunion between the two countries. “For us it is very significant that we are traveling the path of reunion, of reunification between two peoples that are forever marked by providence and destiny to live as brothers and sisters,” he said.

Maduro stressed that relations between Bogota and Caracas are taking “a new dynamic” turn in the political, diplomatic, economic, commercial and population spheres. “We are in a new phase of building relationships in all senses, in the entire line of action. And our economic and commercial relations, although they have not reached the dimension of what we aspired for, but they are setting a good pace and good dynamics,” he said.

Maduro pointed out that the agreement “updates everything having to do with tariffs, goods traded, and lays the foundations for a new dynamic for the expansion of trade between Colombia and Venezuela.” The signed agreement “sets the path of the work of productivity and economic and commercial growth of the two countries, looking forward,” he added.

Colombia and Venezuela broke off diplomatic and trade relations in February 2019 after the former conservative Colombian President Iván Duque recognized the US-backed self-proclaimed “president” Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. Duque’s government assisted his entry into Venezuela with so-called “humanitarian aid,” which was denounced as a front for an attempted coup by the Maduro government.

Following his inauguration in early August 2022, Petro began working with his Venezuelan counterpart on improving relations. The countries formally re-established political and diplomatic relations on August 29, 2022, by appointing ambassadors to each others’ nations. A month later, on September 26, 2022, the governments officially reopened their common land border following seven years of closure.

This is the third meeting between Petro and Maduro, since the Colombian president took office. The first bilateral meeting was held on November 1, 2022 at the Miraflores Palace, seat of the Venezuelan President, in the capital Caracas. Subsequently, the leaders met again at the beginning of January in the same place.