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Venezuela ceased to be the main partner of the Free Zone of Panama

Venezuela ceased to be the main partner of the Free Zone of Panama

Posted by Dubraswka Aguilar on October 24, 2014

Due to the fall in sales to Venezuela, Puerto Rico emerged in 2014 as the major shopping destination of the Colon Free Zone (CFZ) in Panama, the second largest port forwarding goods after Hong Kong. Venezuelan importers stopped being the main historical client FTA without solution in sight to the debt they have with Panamanian suppliers.

It has not been diffused publicly the exact amount of Venezuelan debt (estimated between 1,700 and 2,000 million dollars), the crisis due the accumulated debt moved Venezuela to fifth in the relevant partners of a commercial enclave located in the area of port of Colon, on the Caribbean coast, operating since 1948 as a mechanism for tax exemption.

The president of the Association of Users of the FTA, Luis Germán Gómez Giraldo, explains that due the Venezuelan debt, "Free Zone companies adjusted inventories and receivables. The volume of sales to Venezuela declined significantly is a slashing. Some of the debts have been rearranged, but not at the speed that is required. "

Gomez argues that "much money is still in accounts receivable in Venezuela. There has even been the impetus of the Government of Venezuela to meet these obligations. "

On 5 March, due a bilateral friction with the Organization of American States by political violence that rocked Venezuela in February, Caracas broke diplomatic, political, commercial and economic relations with Panama. The mess of debts was in the center of the controversy and although the ties were restored in July, with the presidential change in Panama, the financial conflict has raged.

Venezuelan importers were, at least until 2013, the main customers of the free port, billing about 29,000 million dollars a year. Venezuelan debt caused a strong impact, as their operations amounted last year to average approximately 30% of total annual operations of the FTA.

Venezuela, whose purchases totaled $ 541 million from January to June 2014 "goes to fifth place, especially by lowering the bolivar (Venezuelan currency) against the dollar, which makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to access Venezuelan American currency to pay imports, "said a report of the administration of the FTA. The "most important for Zone" market re-exports in the first half of 2014 was Puerto Rico, that bought merchandise around1, 056.2 million.

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