Venezuelan Daily Brief

Published in association with The DVA Group and The Selinger Group, the Venezuelan Daily Brief provides bi-weekly summaries of key news items affecting bulk commodities and the general business environment in Venezuela.

Friday, October 24, 2014

October 24, 2014

International Trade


28 ships are at bay at Puerto Cabello, awaiting dock assignment. 18 are bearing bulk cargo, including 14 carrying food such as yellow corn, white corn, sugar, rice, wheat and soya, for a total 302,499 tons. Most are imported by state agency CASA, and one of them has been at bay for almost one month. There is concern in customs circles over the number of bulk carriers at bay because their offloading could take several days and could delay the arrival of general container cargo for the Christmas season. More in Spanish: (El Universal;


Venezuela to create state run storage facilities for legal sales to Colombia

President Nicolás Maduro announced the creation of a system of storage facilities for the legal sale and distribution of Venezuelan products to Colombia, at international prices agreed to by both governments. He added they would be set up in border regions. More in Spanish:  (Agencia Venezolana de Noticias;á-sistema-almacenes-para-venta-y-distribución-legal-productos-colombia; El Mundo,; El Universal,



Logistics & Transport


Government pays airlines only 15% of the amount offered

On September 26 the National Foreign Trade Center announced it would pay international airlines operating here US$ 125 million. After one month, only LUFTHANSA has received US$ 19 million for its February 2014 operations, the others have received nothing. Total government debt to airlines is around US$ 3.5 billion and has caused companies to drastically cut down on flights and seats serving the Venezuelan market. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;



Oil & Energy


PDVSA says it will invest US$20 billion to boost refining capacity

State oil company PDVSA plans to invest US$ 20 billion to expand its domestic refining capacity by 20%, a company official said on Wednesday, without providing a time frame for when the investments would take place. Refining chief Jesus Luongo said PDVSA would add 265,000 barrels per day (bpd) of refining capacity to the current 1.3 million bpd. The plans include doubling the capacity of the 146,000 bpd El Palito facility and boosting capacity of the 187,000 bpd Puerto la Cruz refinery by 20,000 to 25,000 bpd. (Reuters,; El Universal,


Bolivia to seek oil along with Venezuela's PDVSA in northern La Paz

PETROANDINA, a joint venture between Bolivian State-run oil company YPFB and State-run oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa), is to continue oil exploration in northern La Paz department, Bolivia, says Carlos Villegas, President of the Bolivian corporation. "We will start drilling in Lliquimuni in the first half of December. We are hopeful about finding oil," Villegas explained. (El Universal,





Government seizes warehouses packed with medical goods, food; raises jail sentences, curtails street vendors

The government said on Thursday it had taken over warehouses around Venezuela crammed with medical goods and food that "bourgeois criminals" were hoarding for speculation and contraband. The socialist government says businessmen and wealthy opponents are trying to sabotage the economy to bring Maduro down, while also seeking to make profits from hoarding, price-gouging and smuggling across the border to Colombia. Maduro said "The bourgeois parasites are hurting the people's health", charging the goods had been bought with dollars obtained from the state's foreign exchange board and were due to be sold across the border in Colombia. Maduro also announced he would use decree powers to increase the maximum jail sentence for smugglers to 14 years, set new "fair price" controls for basic goods from Nov. 1, and curtail informal reselling of food and medical essentials on the street. (Reuters,


Coca Cola takes US$ 268 million charge on Venezuela currency

"During the nine months ended September 26, 2014, the Company recorded charges of US$ 268 million related to the devaluation of the Venezuelan bolivar, including a write-down of receivables related to concentrate sales to our bottling partner in Venezuela as well as our proportionate share of the charge incurred by this bottler, an equity method investee." (Latin American Herald Tribune,


Government subsidy for coffee in Venezuela

The government has authorized the "single, direct, and transitory" subsidy of the roasted coffee industry manufacturing ground and roasted coffee produced at home. (El Universal,



Economy & Finance


2015 budget projects 3% GDP deficit, assigns 20% to debt service

The 2015 budget law presented by the government to the National Assembly estimates a fiscal deficit of 3% GDP, while total government debt by 2014 is estimated at US$ 127.8 billion - not counting PDVSA obligations and Chinese loans. Debt service costs will double the amount to be spent in the Education and Labor ministries, quadruples that to be spent on higher education, health and defense. More in Spanish: (El Universal,;; and El Nacional;


Maduro seeks to avoid costly foreign borrowing, announces "banking revolution"

President Nicolas Maduro says the country will avoid more borrowing on international markets because of rising costs as a result of worsening credit risk perceptions. "We are not going to use or ask for credit, in those conditions the global capitalist banks want to impose," Maduro said. "We're not going to do it. We have other (financing) sources, fortunately." He said there is a "sort of financial, credit, international blockade" on the country, repeated earlier statements that Venezuela was prepared for volatility on global energy markets, and added that he would shortly announce a “banking revolution to democratize resources”. He offered no further details. (Reuters,; El Universal,; Veneconomy,


Maduro accuses foreign media of spreading Venezuela default fear

President Nicolas Maduro has denounced Thomson Reuters Corp. (TRI), saying its news agency is part of a foreign media campaign to spread fears that Venezuela will default on debt. “I denounce the Reuters news agency because of the damage it causes with its international cables,” Maduro said. “They run, they go to the experts, they sound alarms.”

Reuters, along with other news agencies, has reported this month that investors are concerned Venezuela won’t pay its sovereign debt obligations. (Bloomberg,


Government vows payment of US$3 billion bond, says it is ready for oil volatility

Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco says the nation is "fully prepared" to cope with price volatility on the global oil market and would honor a US$ 3 billion bond payment due next week. (Reuters,; El Universal,


Barclays: Economic adjustment unavoidable amid ebbing oil prices

Economic research firm Barclays says that under the current scenario, the slide in oil prices makes Venezuela think adjustments are unavoidable. Beyond a drop in oil revenues, the government will face more difficulties to access financial markets to finance its deficit. In its latest report, entitled "Venezuela: the perfect storm," Barclays outlines that every dollar oil price declines means a US$ 728 million-drop in the country's revenues. "This has raised the pressure on Venezuela's hard currency cash flow." (El Universal,


Foreign investment down 54% in Venezuela during the first half of 2014

A report by the UN's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) shows foreign investment into Venezuela dropped 54% during the first half of 2014, for a total US$ 1.761 billion. At the same time, Venezuelan direct investment abroad rose by 29%.  More in Spanish: (Notitarde,; El Mundo,; El Universal,; Ultimas Noticias,; El Nacional;


Venezuela pays for expropriation mistakes

Venezuela today is paying for the irresponsible and insatiable wave of expropriations which, on the one hand, has taken national production to critical levels and led the country to rely on imports for its livelihood; and on the other, has discouraged investment capital while making the State go to arbitration courts so it can respond to complaints from international companies whose rights have been violated. (Latin American Herald Tribune,



Politics and International Affairs


Maduro faces rough months ahead

Significant financial trouble, such as defaults on foreign debt or significant social spending cuts, is not yet imminent, but a long period of depressed oil prices will make such problems more likely. President Nicolas Maduro's administration will continue trying to stem inflation and shortages, but a likely cut in spending could affect the ruling party's popularity. If low oil prices last more than a few months, Venezuela will try to shore up its precarious foreign currency reserves. It can sell part of its gold reserve to raise more cash, but this would likely be a desperate move. Venezuela also will continue relying on the National Development Fund and Chinese loans, though declining oil production puts these under an increasing threat. Over the next year, Venezuela will take some tentative steps toward straightening its financial situation. PDVSA will begin offering a restructuring plan to bondholders holding debt that will mature in 2016 and 2017. If PDVSA does not restructure, it will have to pay US$ 18.5 billion in debt payments and interest from 2015 to 2017. If Caracas cannot successfully carry out the debt swap, then the possibility of difficult domestic decisions concerning spending will become more likely. According to an unconfirmed report, the government is trying to mitigate the fallout from its declining popularity by rescheduling legislative elections originally slated for November 2015 to April or July of that year. (Stratfor,


A power struggle may be emerging in Venezuela

On Oct. 7 Jose Odreman, the leader of the "March 5" colectivo, was killed by the Criminal Investigative Police (CICPC), along with four other colectivo members following a raid on their headquarters in Caracas. The events suggest possible fractures within the official and unofficial security forces that President Maduro will have to rely on to secure the stability of his government in the coming months and years. Colectivos have been used to intimidate dissenters and operate beyond the boundaries of the conventional state apparatus. Regardless of the proximate cause of the conflict between CICPC and the colectivo, disunity among the state's security forces comes at a dangerous time for Maduro. If the Odreman killing leads to a significant portion of the colectivos becoming unavailable to the central government to deploy against protesters, Maduro will lose a useful tool for mitigating social unrest. (Stratfor,


The Electoral Nomination Committee was sworn in at the National Assembly. It is made up of 21 people (13 from the government and eight from the opposition) must now appoint a chairman and a deputy chairman and draft internal rules within a six-day deadline. They will then make the call for candidates to the three CNE positions available. (Veneconomy,; El Universal,


Major general terms entry of officials into Colombia a "misunderstanding"

Major General Efraín Velasco, defense chief for Venezuela's Andean Region says the recent entry of six Venezuelan military officers into the Colombian territory during an operation conducted within the framework of Venezuela's war on smuggling was a due to a "misunderstanding".  The event resulted in a note of protest sent by Colombia to its neighboring country. (El Universal,


Venezuela calls the UN request to release López "unreasonable"

The Venezuelan mission at the United Nations in Geneva has sent a notice to the Office of United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR) labeling as "unreasonable" the latter's petition to release Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López. In the letter, the Venezuelan government claims that UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, "has overdone his incumbency; has showed total ignorance of the limits of his scope, and has been unreasonable, to the extent of urging Venezuelan authorities to release López and (ex mayor Daniel) Ceballos forthwith". (El Universal,


Spain's Rajoy expresses concern over dissenter Leopoldo López, and is quickly rebuffed

Spanish President Mariano Rajoy also expressed his concerns over the detention of Leopoldo López, after meeting with Lilian Tintori, wife of Venezuelan opposition leader. He stressed that the European Union has been worried about the trial facing López. Further, he highlighted the need to respect freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate peacefully in Venezuela. The Venezuelan government quickly rejected Rajoy's "interventionist" comments in a protest note to the Spanish Foreign Ministry. (El Universal,; and more in Spanish: AVN;ñol)



The following brief is a synthesis of the news as reported by a variety of media sources. As such, the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Duarte Vivas & Asociados and The Selinger Group.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21, 2014

International Trade

Cargo arrived at Puerto Cabello:

  • Over 19,000 tons of NPK fertilizer from Russia's Ojsc Phosogro Cherepovets for BARIVEN
  • 6,000 tons of rice from Guyana's National Rice Development Board for Corporación de Abastecimientos y Servicios Agrícolas (CASA)
  • 2,500 tons of beef in 75 containers from Las Camelias S.A, Soychu, BRF BR Food S.A and Noelma S.A for CASA.
  • Over 1,600 tons of beans from Paramericana S.A., for CASA
  • Over 1,440 tons of milk in 45 containers from Uruguay's ALMAR.
  • Over 200 tons of paper from Shenker and Kimberly-Clark for Industria Venezolana del Papel (INVEPAL)
  • Over 200 tons of tires for cargo vehicles for Venezuela's Foreign Trade Corporation (CORPOVEX)
More in Spanish: (Notitarde;;


Logistics & Transport

Added airfares are being sold in U$ dollars

American Airlines and LUFTHANSA have added flights to service Venezuela, and COPA Airlines will use a larger aircraft, but airline sources have confirmed that the new tickets are sold in US$ dollars, and adds: "Airlines are selling the bare minimum in local currency in order to maintain operating costs in Venezuela, and you can see it in lower FOREX requests at the National Foreign Trade Center (CENCOEX) this year. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;


CONFERRY service to Margarita island down from 9 to 2 vessels

Alfredo Mariño, mayor of Porlamar in Margarita Island says state owned CONFERRY running service between the island and the mainland is down to 2 vessels, down from 9. He adds that time is running short for container arrivals needed to meet Christmas season demand for the resort area. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,


Oil & Energy

PDVSA confirms one-off import of light crude oil

Venezuelan state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) confirmed that it is importing light crude oil to dilute the extra heavy oil of the Orinoco Oil Belt, the world's largest oil reservoir. PDVSA said that "the situational acquisition" of light crude oil seeks to reduce costs by replacing the expensive naphtha it has been using to dilute over the past years (El Universal,


Economy & Finance

BOFA says that falling oil prices create a "grave risk" for Venezuela

A report by Bank Of America Merrill Lynch (BOFA) warns that if oil prices continue falling Venezuela will need US$ 12 billion in "additional financing" and require "additional adjustments". The report adds that "for each dollar that prices drop, the government loses US$ 770 million in net income" Should prices average US$ 80 per barrel, there will be a US$ 7 billion external deficit. BOFA insists the government is not considering a default, but warns that with falling oil prices and an election year ahead "authorities could consider selling some foreign assets or borrow abroad at a high cost". The institution also believes the cut in imports will also hit the public sector, although the government will concentrate on buying mass consumption items. Alternatives include reducing oil dispatches to PETROCARIBE - which are US$ 8 billion a year - or further devaluation. More in Spanish (El Universal,


Moody’s sees Venezuela's economy contracting 2.1% in 2014

Moody's is projecting that Venezuela's economy will contract by 2.1% in 2014 and downgraded Venezuelan debt to Caa1. It also says that in 2015 increased public spending prior to important legislative elections "will push the economy into a small 1.2% expansion". More in Spanish: (Infolatam)


Maduro says Venezuela's 2015 budget will again estimate oil price at US$ 60 dollars

President Nicolas Maduro says Venezuela's 2015 budget will be based on a target oil price of $60 dollars per barrel, but he repeated expectations that prices will recover. Venezuela routinely underestimates oil prices when planning its budget in order to allow subsequent increased spending with fewer budget restrictions. "There will be no catastrophe or collapse here," he said, adding that he expects prices to bounce back. The 2015 budget goes to the National Assembly this week. (Reuters,; and more in Spanish: AVN;á-presupuesto-2015; El Mundo,; El Universal,; El Nacional;


Fair Price Superintendent seeks price agreements with private sector

National Fair Price Superintendent Andres Eloy Mendez says he has been meeting with businessmen, owners of supermarkets, and pharmaceutical associations to ensure fair prices so that "we can have a healthy economy". He says "we don't want to ruin anyone, any businessman, we respect the established, non excessive, profit margin, but it is also our duty to protect peoples incomes". More in Spanish: (El Mundo,



Maduro approval rating drops to 30%

President Nicolas Maduro's approval rating dropped to 30.2 percent in September from 35.4 percent in July, according to a survey by pollster Datanalisis, amid an ongoing economic crisis that has weighed on his popularity.

The OPEC nation faces the highest annual inflation in the Western Hemisphere at 63.4 percent, chronic shortages of consumer goods and an economy that business leaders say has entered recession.

The poll conducted between Sept. 25 and Oct. 7 showed that 80.1 percent of those interviewed have an unfavorable perception of the country's state-led economic model, created by late socialist leader Hugo Chavez. (Reuters,


UN Human Rights Chief calls on Venezuela to free Lopez and protestors

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, expressed serious concern over the continued detention of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, along with 69 others arrested in the context of public protests that took place across the nation over several months starting in February this year.
"The prolonged and arbitrary detention of political opponents and protestors in Venezuela is causing more and more concern internationally," High Commissioner Zeid said. "It is only exacerbating the tensions in the country." (Latin American Herald Tribune,; El Universal,


...and Assembly President Cabello rules out pardon for political prisoners

Diosdado Cabello, President of Venezuela's National Assembly, claims he saved opposition leader Leopoldo López's life, adding that there were no negotiations prior to Lopez turning himself in to the Bolivarian National Guard earlier this year. "He (López) knew it (information about his possible assassination), too. Why did he turn himself in? He and his family were aware of that," says the legislator, without providing any details. He also said freeing Lopez is a matter for the judiciary, not the executive or the legislative branch of government. (El Universal,


IAPA charges Venezuela is destroying press freedom, social media targeted by regime

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has complained of the "worsened damage to democracy" in Venezuela, and its "destructive effect on freedom of the press". A report by the Freedom of the Press Committee says "journalists have been detained, threatened, some tortured and others persecuted workers have had their equipment confiscated and their work limited or obstructed" ..y "by military or police officers", as well as "so-called collectives". It adds that that the survival of print media is "severely threatened due to scarce newsprint and other components". The report indicates over 30 print media have been hurt by lack of newsprint, and at least 12 have gone out of circulation either temporary or permanently. The group also supported the position of Miguel Henrique Otero, publisher of "El National" daily who reported administrative and economic pressure upon editors, who are forced to face accusations they cannot defend against.  Otero also reported hacking of personal and professional mails of journalists...blocked web pages, closed Twitter accounts. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;; and Infolatam)


Colombian FA Minister cancelled

A scheduled meeting between Colombian Foreign Affairs Minister María Ángela Holguín and her counterpart Rafael Ramírez in Caracas today was cancelled when the latter traveled to Havana with Nicolás Maduro for the ALBA summit on Ebola. This happened after five Venezuelan troops were captured in Colombian territory this weekend. They claimed they entered Colombian territory “by mistake.” (Veneconomy,; More in Spanish: El Nacional;


ALBA agrees to reinforce security and "take action" against Ebola

The presidents and health ministers of 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries meeting in Havana have agreed to reinforce security at the borders and to draft an "action plan" to fight the Ebola virus in the region. The presidents signed a 23 item declaration, which includes charging health ministers with "preparing an action plan" by no later than November 5, as well as its "immediate implementation," in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). (El Universal,;; Reuters,



The following brief is a synthesis of the news as reported by a variety of media sources. As such, the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Duarte Vivas & Asociados and The Selinger Group.