Colombia, Venezuela form $200m fund to boost trade
The presidents of Colombia and Venezuela pledged Saturday to invest $100 million each in a special fund in hopes of boosting cross-border trade as the world economic crisis slashes global demand for their exports.
The cash will help create small businesses and should finance infrastructure projects along the border, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said after four hours of talks in the Caribbean port of Cartagena with his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe.
"Nobody knows where this crisis might go," Chavez told a televised news conference.
Trade between the two nations reached a record $7.2 billion in 2008, and Chavez said they should aim for $10 billion a year in 2009 and 2010. Both neighbors are looking to prevent the global slowdown from crimping commerce and spurring unemployment.
Once-rapid growth in Venezuela's oil-dependent economy is slowing with falling crude prices, while Colombia has seen textile sales decline. Caracas is Colombia's biggest trade partner after the U.S., making it especially vulnerable to a slowdown in Venezuela.
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