Colombian exports to Venezuela totalled 652 million US dollars between January and May 2010, showing a 71.4% fall compared with the first five months of 2009, reports Colombia's Department of Statistics (DANE).
The data disclosed Monday by DANE means that Venezuela is no longer the second importer of Colombian goods and its share in total Colombian trade decreased from 17.9% to just 4% in that period.
Figures expose that between January and May 2010, exports of boilers, machinery and spare parts to Venezuela, among other items, declined 71.5% from 144.2 million US dollars to 41.1 million USD.
Exports of fuel and mineral oil and by-products decreased by 71.8% from 131.2 million to 37 million, while sales of cotton plummeted 92.1%. Finally sales of meat and offal decreased to zero.
DANE said that in May alone Colombian exports to Venezuela declined 68.9%. Venezuela has traditionally been Colombia's second-largest trading partner surpassed only by the U.S.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez essentially shut the border to Colombian products last year in a heated diplomatic spat with President Alvaro Uribe.
However in spite of the decline of trade with Venezuela, Colombia is targeting a record breaking 40 billion US dollars exports this year through diversification of markets, according to Trade Minister Guillermo Plata.
The Colombian government expects exports to climb 22% in 2010 and break the 37.2 billion mark from 2008 despite the 70% plunge in sales to Venezuela, said Plata.
Colombia is diversifying its exports, and in the last three months, firms have started to offset the losses to Venezuela said Plata.
As a result of the problems with Venezuela, China is now Colombia's second-largest trading partner. Plata, however, highlighted that the products Colombia used to sell to Venezuela, such as manufactured and agricultural goods, are being redirected to markets in Central America and the Caribbean.
This year's export boom, however, has been driven by sales of commodities like oil, coal, coffee and ferronickel. Manufactured and agricultural goods, among others, are down 4.5%, a figure that Plata says is the result of the problems with Venezuela, which was a key market for these types of items.
It's actually a very good number if you consider that sales to Venezuela are down 70% and shows that other markets are compensating for the decline, he said.
Colombian president-elect Juan Manuel Santos has said that fixing diplomatic and trade relations with Venezuela will be one of his priorities. Santos' inauguration takes place next August 7.