This Monday will take place the total reopening of the border crossings between Colombia and Venezuela, which were closed to vehicle traffic for seven long years of distancing.
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In this regard, Luis Alberto Russián, president of the Chamber of Venezuelan-Colombian Economic Integration (Cavecol), spoke with EL TIEMPO about the expectations of that union in the face of reopening.
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How does reality change for entrepreneurs starting tomorrow, September 26?
With the opening of the bridges a new stage begins, one more step towards the normalization and institutionalization of the relationship. The passage of merchandise will be allowed, so customs will be in charge of processing the commercial activity. Being closed in recent years fosters distortions that foster informality.
On the other hand, the historical links of always begin to be reestablished, and it is also a step towards the feasibility of the passage of people with their private vehicles, and of the transport of people who historically passed through there.
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This is going to have an impact on the domestic market of both countries, since in recent years they have sought partners outside the region. They are steps towards restoration.
What benefits for Venezuela and Colombia does this new stage bring?
The first benefits are for the border people. The positive expectation has brought a greater flow of money in the area, that there is more employment in the area, that people change their mood in their daily lives because they have hope, they bet that this new stage, beyond the differences and limitations, will allow people to feel better and have more resources to live.
In recent years, the closure of the border has implied a direct impact on formal activities not only due to taxes, but also the quality of jobs, an impact on livestock, agriculture, tourism. We can start to have suppliers nearby.
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It is allowing us to resume an agenda of competitiveness issues, moving from an agenda of resilience, somewhat isolated, but now, having such a close trade partner, we have to evaluate the gaps, to see how to work on the rapprochement.
We aspire to establish public-private instances for the design of coordinated and binational public policies to solve the differences that arise from one side and the other.
What are the main challenges?
The challenges are many, the enormous challenges for Venezuela, because in recent years, as we have been dedicated to another agenda, not that of competitiveness and innovation, there are gaps to work on.
The issue of public services and the cost of public services in Venezuela, the supplies, the infrastructure must be put in tune. The lack of financing that occurs in Venezuela, the fiscal voracity, there are so many issues that we have for the purposes of the trade relationship and binational integration such as migration, we have to re-establish rules, common standards, we have to rebuild a relationship that It was very wide and diverse.
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The important thing is that the agenda is defined, that there is the will to work on one side and the other, hand in hand with the public sector and the private sector, in order to take this path of common growth so that the people, both in Venezuela as well as from Colombia are benefited.
Can the border become the economic zone that drives the country’s economy?
The border is a dynamic agent of the binational relationship and can become the hinge of this contact. What happens is that historically the border areas have been forgotten from the capitals. This presents a new chapter with new opportunities and of course yes, the border can play a very important role as long as it is taken care of and there is a will.
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The border is a dynamic agent of the binational relationship and can become the hinge of this contact
How does the relationship look in about 5 years?
Hopefully five years from now this path of growth, this will becomes effective. So far we are in the process of rebuilding, of reestablishing the communication of trust and nothing would be healthier than cultivating that trust, but like interpersonal relationships, trust is earned through work and effort every day.
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That is one of the great challenges, hopefully it will be positive. Perhaps five years from now, Venezuela will once again be part of the Andean Community, adequate progress will be made, if there is a satisfactory strategy, let’s bet on the positive and think big.
ANA RODRIGUEZ BRAZON
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