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Mr Bindraban has been exporting to the Caribbean for years
"Imports from the Dominican Republic could be the answer"
Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, has withdrawn his accusation that gold was being smuggled from Venezuela to the Antilles. As a result, the trade embargo has been somewhat relaxed. The first ships carrying fruit have docked at Willemstad again, but there are still significant shortages.
Trade company, Bima A.V.V. from Rotterdam has been exporting fresh produce to Curaçao for years. Many of their goods come from Venezuela. "Since the border has been closed, it has been very difficult to export from Venezuela", says owner, Mr H.B. Bindraban. "We are now looking at the possibility of transporting fruit and vegetables from here to the Antilles, but the vast distance makes it very expensive."
Curaçao, itself, does not have any agriculture to speak of. This makes it wholly dependent on imports. The locals are particularly affected, now that Venezuelan ships carrying fruit and vegetables no longer dock at the islands. "Many residents of Curaçao used to get their fruit and vegetables at the market. Now, there is very little to be found. The supermarket shelves are just about empty."
Venezuelan retailers are equally hard hit by the border closure. "They need to get rid of their wares. They get much better prices on the Antillean islands than in their own country. On Curaçao, they also get paid in dollars which are very valuable in Venezuela."
Focus on the Dominican Republic
"It would be a good solution for the Dutch Antilles to now import from the Dominican Republic. There is enough fruit and vegetables there. There used to be a daily flight with fresh fruit and vegetables from Santo Domingo to Curaçao. Now, that happens only once a week. Given the current situation, that number could be increased again. Regarding distance, it is a very attractive option."
First-class produce for luxury hotels
The high season is in full swing on Curaçao. It is bursting with tourists. "The hotels need first-class produce now. We have already informed them if we are able to send anything as the closure is still going to last a while."
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Mr H.B. Bindraban
Publication date: 1/22/2018
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