The Economist | 9/10/2009 12:00:00 AM
Politics versus trade
Sept 10--Hugo Chávez stamps out regional economic integration
The impact on the border region was swift. For each country, the other is the second-biggest trading partner (after the United States in both cases). Bilateral trade totalled $7.2 billion last year, of which $6 billion consisted of Colombian exports, mainly of food, live animals, clothing and cars. Four-fifths of that trade passed along the twisting mountain road that links San Antonio with the state capital, San Cristóbal. “That represents 50,000 direct jobs and 250,000 indirect [ones],” says José Rozo, a local business leader. Many of these are in transport firms and customs agencies. “Before, the local lorry drivers were doing around 500 trips a day,” Mr Rozo says. “Now it’s down to about 80.” Industry in Táchira has been hit too, since many companies depended on imports from Colombia.
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