Friday, 16 May 2014

Venezuelan exports to Colombia and the dialogue (updated)

Exports from Venezuela to Colombia in millions of dollars
It is not always easy to find reliable data on Venezuela's trade with the rest of the world these days. That is why I (and many others) have to use sources from the trade partners. Venezuelan government sites these days are more about obfuscation than about information.

Colombians keep nice, easily readable data. Here you can see the exports from Venezuela to Colombia since 1994. Remember: the caudillo Chávez came to power in early 1999. From 2009 to 2010 Venezuela went into recession because oil prices got to a local minimum - less than in 2004-2008 but still a lot more than in the 1990-1998 period. If the Venezuelan government hadn't kept the currency heavily over-valued and if it had been less aggressive against private producers, we would have had a good time exporting. Instead, exports haven't recovered.

We are good for the UNASUR countries in as much as we buy and don't sell.

Below you can see Colombia's imports not only from Venezuela but from Colombia's other major partners. I put it in logarithmic scale. Still, you can see how Venezuela goes from being the second country from which Colombia imported to ninth. Venezuelan producers are exporting less and less to the neighbouring country. Colombia can improve its trade balance and Venezuela depends more and more on oil exports to the "Empire" and China.

Do you think the UNASUR group will be an efficient moderator in any hypothetical dialogue between the Venezuelan opposition and the regime? Mind: the trade imbalance with Brazil is much more dramatic. More about that next week.

Imports to Colombia ($ millions), logarithmic scale. Click to get a more decent view


  1. Estimado Kepler
    This data is helpful. I would like to understand this a bit more -- trade with Colombia is a complex issue, as there have also been interruptions for political reasons, esp. by Chavez in Uribe's later year as president. There was a lot of pressure on Santos when he first ran for president to insure to his business base in the border areas that he would re-establish trade relations.
    There was also, as I recall, the times when Venezuela was and was not subsidizing fuel sales to Colombia to undermine somewhat illegal trade in fuel (do I have this correct?)
    Just wondering, also is the y-axis is US dollars, and are they nominal?
    Thanks much. The link to Colombian data is useful.

    1. Hi, Thomas. It seems there was something wrong with the link. I corrected it. Now it's fine. You can download the excel files there. Unfortunately, I don't know if it's nominal but now I am adding a new chart where you can see Venezuela compared to other countries, which can serve as a reference inflation yes or no. This new chart is logarithmic, mind!
      It's pretty amazing.

    2. I don't recall about the fuel subsidies. But yeah, there have been ups and downs. Initially I wanted to put some arrows in the chart like:
      "Uribe said Chávez was supporting FARC, Chávez got a tantrum"
      "Santos' reconciliation"
      but I just left it like that, couldn't bother anymore with all the details.
      Venezuela has got previous ups and downs with Colombia and not just because of these discussions or borders but because of ever recurring price and currency controls in Venezuela, also during Caldera. Still, the trend now is clear, I think.

    3. The comparison makes it all really clear. Thanks!


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