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.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 27th, 2011

Economics, & Finance

Chavez again threatens Spain bank unit with takeover
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez phoned an official at Spanish bank BBVA's local unit live on TV on Wednesday to threaten it with nationalization if mortgage seekers were not better served. The socialist president has frequently threatened to take over any banks that stand in the way of financing for much needed home building in the country, and has singled out BBVA'S Banco Provincial unit in the past. But he upped the ante on Wednesday when, after hearing complaints by would-be homeowners about lack of attention from Provincial, he phoned the official during a televised meeting. (Reuters, 01-26-2011;

Commercial Banking sector must grant at least Bs.F15 billion for house construction, half of the amount needed to build the 150,000 housing units promised for this year, warned President Chávez yesterday. (Veneconomy, 01-27-2011;

Government postponed launch of the Public Securities Exchange Market for next week even though President Chávez had announced it would be launched today. (Veneconomy, 01-26-2011;

Coca-Cola Femsa Says 11-Day Venezuela Strike Cuts Production
A strike at the main plant of Coca- Cola Femsa SAB’s operations in Venezuela continued into an 11th day today, cutting production by 5.7 million unit cases since it began Jan. 14, the company’s legal director, Rodrigo Anzola, said in a telephone interview from Caracas. (Bloomberg, 01-25-2011;

Chavez Beats AT&T to Cuban Market Over Price Dispute
A pricing dispute between the U.S. and Cuba may have cost American companies including AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc a foothold in the communist island’s recently opened telecommunications market.
Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent SA on Jan. 22 began laying a $70 million, 1,600-kilometer (1,000-mile) underwater fiber-optic cable between Venezuela and the city of Siboney on Cuba’s southeastern coast. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez heralded the subsea link as a way to break the half-century-old U.S. “blockade” of Cuba. (Bloomberg, 01-26-2011;

Central government deficit at 4.02 percent of GDP in 2010
Although current revenues in 2010 were above the estimated in the Venezuelan budget, expenditures were higher than expected, but at the end the central government recorded a deficit. According to data provided by the Ministry of Finance, in 2010 the Treasury received current revenues amounting to USD 46.16 billion, while expenditures stood at USD 54.19 billion. Given this gap, economic research firm Ecoanalítica estimated that in 2010 the deficit was 4.02 percent of GDP. However, the government can resort to funds to cope with the deficit. (El Universal, 01-26-2011;

Jose Khan: China cooperation will boost Venezuela's industrial capacity
The bilateral strategic ties are "very important" to Venezuela, Basic Industry and Mining Minister Jose Khan told Xinhua on Sunday, adding that the joint commissions of the two nations have held nine meetings to design production projects to boost Venezuelan economic development. He said that the plans designed would cover various fundamental areas, such as transportation, agriculture, food production and telecom. "In the case of basic industries, we have been discussing and approving a series of projects which will allow in 2011 the basic industries to recover their production and improve their productiveness," he said. (Global Times, 01-25-2011;


Cadivi authorized over $1.3 billion to the livestock sector in 2010, up 24% from the previous year, informed the foreign currency regulating body in a press release on Monday. (Veneconomy, 01-25-2011;

Menpet to define geographical area of the joint venture between the Venezuelan Oil Corporation (CVP) and Petropars UK Limited to carry out primary activities at the Dobokubi field, located in the San José de Guanipa, Independencia and Pedro María Freites municipalities in Anzoátegui state once the government transfer its rights (January 25 Gaceta Oficial). (Veneconomy, 01-26-2011;

International agreements boost agricultural production
Minister of Agriculture Juan Carlos Loyo said that the government forgave a USD 10-million debt to peasants whose crops were destroyed by heavy rains late last year. Producers had been granted loans by the state-run Socialist Agrarian Development Fund (Fondas). (El Universal, 01-26-2011;

Mining has downsized 60 percent since 2009
Venezuelan mining is does not escape the downward trend in production that has afflicted most other sectors of the Venezuelan economy. Based on the numbers provided by the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), mining has declined 60 percent over the past couple of years. In the opinion of the president of Venezuela's Mining Chamber (Camiven), Luis Rojas Machado, many factors play a role in such performance. The salient one is "an inexistent mining policy in the country; lack of information and dialogue." Local mining "lowered 60 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009-2010." Particularly, "it fell 39 percent in 2009 and in 2010 the drop was of 12 percent." (El Universal, 01-27-2011;

Venezuelan steelmakers call for measures to resuscitate industry sector
BNamericas reported that after closing 2010 with the lowest production levels in the history of Venezuelan steelmaking, sector executives have asked the government to report on what is being done to reverse the situation. Mr. Eduardo Garmendia steel sector executive told BNamericas that "a group of business people made the request because Venezuela's steel sector had a briquette manufacturing capacity that made it the largest briquette producer in the world and currently the sector isn't even at 30% of its capacity." Mr. Garmendia, who is also the former president of the country's mining and metallurgical industry association AIMM, said that the decline was caused by the drop in iron ore production, which is at 50% of what it was in previous years. (VHeadline,

Logistics & Transport

Ninety percent of Venezuelan roads in terrible conditions
Based on a technical survey of the Venezuelan Engineers' Association (CIV), 70 percent of roads are in terrible conditions after the heavy rainfalls recorded in late 2010. Today, 90 percent of roads are seriously damaged, thus restricting traffic and causing casualties. (El Universal, 01-25-2011;


President Chávez announced another decree-law and a new Socialist Mission during a visit to the Social Property Unit La Productora in Ospino, Portuguesa state. Even though he did not detail the names or areas of influence, it is expected they will both deal with the agro-producing sector. (Veneconomy, 01-25-2011;

President Chávez ready to work with dissenting state governors
During his visit to a socialist property unit located in Portuguesa state, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez claimed to be ready to support opposition state governors "as long as they make proposals." (El Universal, 01-25-2011;

President Chavez welcomes Uruguay's Mujica for bilateral meeting
On Thursday arrived at the Miraflores Presidential Palace, Caracas, the president of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay Jose Mujica to hold a bilateral meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The two presidents will hold a meeting of work with the aim to sign a series of bilateral cooperation accords in matters of food and energy. (AVN, 01-27-2011;

Uruguay supports candidacy of Ali Rodriguez to Unasur Secretariat
During an exclusive interview with Telesur, the President of Uruguay Jose "Pepe" Mujica said on Wednesday that his country would support the candidacy of the Venezuelan Alí Rodríguez Araque to the General Secretariat of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). Mujica arrived yesterday in Venezuela in his second official visit to strengthen bilateral ties, the Ministry of People’s Power for Foreign Affairs Nicolas Maduro said. (AVN, 01-27-2011;

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, January 25, 2011

January 24th, 2011

Economics & Finance

Deadline for Venezuela's withdrawal from CAN is looming
Time is running out. Venezuela's obligations to the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) will end on April 22 and it is unknown whether the South American country will return to the multilateral organization or if Venezuela will reach an agreement with Colombia and the other CAN members. Local businessmen face a risky future due to this lack of definition, because they do not know the framework that will govern Venezuela's trade relations with countries such as Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and, specially Colombia. Experts warn that a framework for trade agreements with the Andean nations should be established. (El Universal, 01-24-2011;

Government will condone farmers’ debts
President Chávez said yesterday his government would soon announce all debts of farmers who lost their crops as a result of the heavy rains of November and December 2010 will be condoned via a decree-law within his Special Powers. (Veneconomy, 01-24-2011;

Bad news for the Venezuelan economy
The economic slowdown, which has hit Venezuela for two consecutive years, had a direct effect on households. The impact hit hardest the lowest social strata of the population, not only because the number of families in this social level soared, but also because they are consuming less staple products. (El Universal, 01-21-2011;

VenEconomy: Ratifying the Central Bank’s Destruction
In March 2006, the economists José Guerra, Orlando Ochoa P., Jesús Rojas D., and Oscar García Mendoza filed an appeal for annulment of the amendments to the Central Bank of Venezuela Act published in Gaceta Oficial Nº 38,232 of July 20, 2005, before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice on the grounds that they were unconstitutional.
Now, nearly five years after the petition was filed and after $38.8 billion have already been transferred to Fonden and frittered away, the highest court in the land, accompanied by Justice Luisa Estela Morales, the judge reporting the case, has declared the petition for annulment to be without merit. This decision ratifies the destruction of the Central Bank. (Veneconomy, 01-24-2011;

Chávez announces monitoring and ceiling on private earnings
In his annual report recently submitted to the National Assembly (AN), Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez reported on regulation of earnings and increasing surveillance of businesses to keep on "fighting against speculation." "Everything has a limit," he said and then disclosed the establishment of the Superintendence of Costs and Prices. President Chávez also reported on a 1.9-percent drop of the economy in 2010 and inflation rate at 27.2 percent. (El Universal, 01-21-2011;

Alpla calls for end to strikes at Coca-Cola plant in Venezuela
Alpla de Venezuela S.A., a manufacturer of plastic bottles, called for an end to labor strife at the Venezuelan unit of Coca-Cola Femsa SAB. The worker strikes endanger Alpla’s productivity and “financial” stability, Alpla General Manager Bernard Baader said. Alpla is the main supplier of plastic bottles to Coca-Cola Femsa and employs 513 workers in Venezuela, the statement said. (Bloomberg, 01-22-2011;


Venezuelan oil basket climbs to USD 86.79 per barrel
The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum reported on Friday that the Venezuelan oil basket of crude oil and products ended the week at USD 86.79 per barrel. Therefore, Venezuelan oil price increased by USD 0.92 compared to the previous week. As a result, the average price of the Venezuelan oil barrel stands at USD 85.87 so far this year. (El Universal, 01-21-2011;

Venezuelan oil exports to the US fall in January
Total crude oil and products exports from the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to the United States have shown a downward trend since mid 2010, in an erratic course characterized by dramatic ups and downs that have led to a 20 percent decrease in average oil exports between August and December 2010. According to data provided by the US Department of Energy, during the week ending on January 14, 2011 Venezuela only exported 549,000 barrels of crude oil and products to the United States. The previous week (January 3 to January 7, 2011), oil exports amounted to 1.02 million bpd, while in the period between December 27 and December 31, 2010 PDVSA had exported 650,000 bpd to the United States. (El Universal, 01-24-2011;

Turkey could invest USD 2.4 billion in Venezuela
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz said on Monday that if the offer from state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to the Turkish government to engage in two oilfields at the Orinoco Oil Belt and in the construction of housing units in Venezuela materializes, Turkey could invest up to USD 2.4 billion. Yildiz did not provide further details about the funds that would be allocated to both the oil and construction projects. (El Universal, 01-24-2011;

Alange Energy Provides Update on Internal Review Process Including Recapitalization and Restructuring of the Company and Announces a C$50 Million Bought Deal Equity Financing
The Company announced today that Mr. Luis Giusti Sr. has stepped down as Chief Executive Officer and will remain on the board to provide his support to this process. The board will also ensure it has the resources available to oversee the execution of the strategic plan that is being implemented under new leadership and a new management team. (Marketwirw, 01-19-2011;

The truth of PDVAL
That at least 130,000 tons of food were spoiled in government hands is no news. Venezuela entered a new year and the PDVAL case reopened. The Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) declared null and void charges against the three defendants. "Total approved funds amounted to USD 2,200,000.00," the Public Prosecutor Office stated in the paper published by the TSJ in December. That amount of money would be good to buy 4,400,000 liters of milk. (El Universal, 01-21-2011;


Friends, foes of Venezuela's Chavez stage rival marches to mark 53rd democracy anniversary
Allies and adversaries of President Hugo Chavez took to the streets of the capital by the thousands Sunday, staging rival demonstrations to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of Venezuela's democracy. Opposition supporters gathered along an avenue in eastern Caracas and chanted anti-government slogans while waving red-yellow-and-blue Venezuelan flags and banners labeling Chavez a despot. Many of the president's critics expressed concerns that Chavez is amassing power and cracking down on dissent. (Chicago Tribune, 01-23-2011;,0,4980107.story?track=rss)

Venezuelan residents abroad welcome call to protest against Chávez
The rallies called by President Hugo Chávez’s foes in about 25 cities, were finally carried out in seven cities: Miami, Madrid, Barcelona, Panama, San Juan, Paris and Amsterdam. Some demonstrators held banners labeling Venezuelan president as "a dictator." Dozens of Venezuelans gathered in Miami to protest against the political system championed by President Chávez. In the meantime, a rally in Madrid gathered Spaniards and Venezuelans who used the slogan: "Stop the dictatorship in Venezuela."The move was apropos the commemoration of the 53rd anniversary of the overthrow of General Marcos Pérez Jiménez. (El Universal, 01-24-2011;

Legislation over industrial zones
President Chávez suggested the creation of laws to regulate industrial zones during his tour of the El Algodonal lots confiscated to Empresas Polar. He said there should be legislation on what constitutes an industrial zone because the warehouses of private or State companies should be outside cities. (Veneconomy, 01-21-2011;

Chávez and Correa will meet in Salinas on Jan. 27
After three previous meetings were suspended at the last minute, the 9th Presidential Meeting between Ecuador and Venezuela will be finally held in the Ecuadorian city of Salinas on January 27. (Veneconomy, 01-21-2011;, 2&Start=0, 15&aaD=2011&ids=44&Var_Send=1&mmD=01&ddD=21&mmH=01&ddH=24&aaH=2011&Send=Buscar)

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.

Friday, January 21, 2011

January 20th, 2011

Economics, & Finance

Cadivi increased the allocation of dollars to food sector in 2010 by 20.9%
During 2010 the Comisión de Administración de Divisas (Cadivi) authorized 5658.2 million dollars for food companies. Of the total, the allocation for ordinary imports was U.S. $ 4,120 million, representing an increase of 20.9% over the previous year. Food items purchased in 2010 with preferential dollars were wheat, corn, malt, not roasted, whole milk powder, infant formula, hatching eggs, soybean oil, crude palm oil, animal fats or vegetable oils among others. (Descifrado; 01-20-2011;

Venezuela, Turkey endorse energy and cooperation accords
Venezuelan authorities and a Turkish delegation agreed to endorse cooperation accords in energy, informed Minister of People´s Power for Energy and Oil, Rafael Ramirez.
Ramirez made the statement on Wednesday during a meeting held with Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz to endorse different cooperation accords in energy and housing matters, among others.
The Republic of Turkey is highly industrialized and has a strategic geopolitical location between Europe and Asia, so Ramirez expressed there is a possibility to cooperate in the entire energy chain. (AVN, 01-19-2011;

Ankara wants Venezuela's oil
Ankara is interested in tapping into the Orinoco oil belt off the coast of Venezuela, the country's energy minister said from Caracas. Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz arrived in Caracas to meet with his Venezuelan counterpart Rafael Ramirez to discuss potential investments in the country's Orinoco Belt. Oil deposits in Venezuela are the some of largest outside the Middle East. Most of the Orinoco oil belt remains undeveloped and the region produces at least 600,000 barrels of oil per day currently. (UPI, 01-20-2011;

Venezuela among the countries with least economic freedom
Venezuelan economy is among the most "restricted" in the world, according to the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom from the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. The study reports that Venezuela's economic freedom score was 37.6 and ranked 175 out of 179 countries for which data are available. Only Eritrea, Cuba, Zimbabwe and North Korea have more restricted economies, according to the index. The study found that compared with last year's results, Venezuela fell one spot in the ranking. (El Universal, 01-20-2011;

Purchasing power and consumer credit plunge in Venezuela
Based on economic figures at the end of 2010, consumption in Venezuela has declined, thus curbing credit card financing and car loans. In 2010, credit card loans amounted to VEB 26.66 billion (USD 6.20 billion), according to data provided by the Venezuelan Superintendence of Banks. After inflation, this represents a 2 percent fall compared to 2009. Meanwhile, car loans decline is 22 percent, after inflation. (El Universal, 01-19-2011;

Venezuelan govn't may regulate private firms' profits
A newly created Superintendence of Costs and Prices seeks to control the profits of private companies, said Noel Álvarez, the president of the Venezuelan Federation of Trade and Industry Chambers (Fedecámaras), Venezuela's main business association. "It appears that the only goal of this agency is to control corporate profits and prices of goods and services," the business leader added. According to Álvarez, no additional economic controls will boost supply and curb inflation. "As long as actions are taken to discourage supply, as is the case now, there will be less variety of products. In turn, waning supply will result in increased prices of goods and services," he said. (El Universal, 01-19-2011;

Venezuelan plantains for the Russians
Russian banana tycoon Vladimir Kejman and the Venezuelan Food Corporation (CVAL, after its initials in Spanish) plan to create a joint venture to manage over half the plantain plants in Venezuela (20,000 hectares), announced the Russian daily Kommersant today. This explains the government interest in the lands at the South of the Lake. (Veneconomy, 01-18-2011;

Pdvsa repays debt to central bank with US dollar-denominated bonds
State-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) will raise USD 3.15 billion in dollar-denominated bonds to pay an outstanding debt with the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) and the country's pension funds. The bonds are due to mature in 2017 and carry an annual coupon of 8.5 percent. The Central Bank of Venezuela received USD 2.4 billion and the pension funds USD 750 million, through a "private placement." (El Universal, 01-18-2011;


Venezuelan govn't plans to adopt measures in the agri-food sector
Tumbling domestic production could lead Venezuela's Executive Office to take steps to address both the consequences of heavy rains in the agricultural regions of the country and the effects of devaluation on the prices of food items, commodities and inputs. Sources said that government authorities have been discussing the possibility of implementing subsidies for agricultural products and food items or authorizing price adjustments for certain consumer goods. (El Universal, 01-19-2011;

Venezuela sees new Orinoco oil output this year
Venezuela hopes for extra output of 50,000 barrels per day from new projects in the vast Orinoco extra heavy crude oil belt during 2011, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Wednesday. The South American OPEC member has signed deals with foreign companies for Orinoco development projects slated eventually to add 2.1 million bpd of new production and bring some $80 billion in investment. (Reuters, 01-19-2011;

Venezuela oil production level in December 2010 flat year on year
Venezuela's oil production at the end of December 2010 stood at 2.26 million barrels per day (bpd) according to the monthly report of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which is based on secondary sources. The figure is almost equivalent to the output recorded in December 2009, when OPEC reported that Venezuela's oil production amounted to 2.27 million bpd. According to the report, Venezuela's output in December 2010 averaged 36,000 bpd more than in November, when Venezuela's output was 2.23 million bpd. (El Universal, 01-18-2011;

Venezuela faces uncertainty over oil find
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the country's hydrocarbon reserves surpass those of Saudi Arabia but left open the possibility of an early commercial exploitation of the resource. A spate of nationalizations has turned investor institutions away from Venezuela, the only oil-producing major country to have reported a shrinking economy for the second consecutive year. Chavez told the newly installed National Assembly Venezuela's oil reserves totaled 217 billion barrels of oil equivalent, exceeding Saudi Arabia's and making them the largest in the world. (UPI, 01-18-2011;

SIDOR union leaders deeply divided over the latest work stoppage
According to a report in Correo del Caroni, SIDOR steel & iron company trade union (SUTISS) called an embarrassing work stoppage protesting non-payment of remaining benefits. Company directors confirmed that the differences in payment will be paid out before January 26 when the cash flow situation has improved. There are conflicts within the union for the stoppage which was called by SUTISS president, Jose Luis Hernandez without prior consultation of other board members. The liquid iron department came to a complete standstill losing 18,000 tonnes in a two-day strike. (VHeadline, 01-19-2011;

Unions at state aluminium producer, CVG Venalum, took over the administrative building to protest their bad working conditions and to demand the head of the plant be fired. They vow they will continue their protest until Basic Industries Minister José “Chino” Khan and President Chávez heed their demands. (Veneconomy, 01-19-2011;


Opposition deputy: Venezuela's entry into Mercosur depends on return to CAN
Henry Ramos Allup, a Venezuelan deputy to the Venezuelan chapter of the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino), said that if Venezuela does not return to the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) it will not enter the Common Market of the South (Mercosur). (El Universal, 01-18-2011;

Work set to begin on Venezuela-Cuba undersea cable
A specialized ship has arrived in Venezuela carrying enough fiber-optic cable to connect the South American country to Cuba, and will soon begin laying the cable along the sea floor to establish a link expected to dramatically improve telephone and Internet service for Cubans. The French-flagged ship Ile de Batz was anchored on the Venezuelan coast and will begin rolling out the cable across the Caribbean Sea in the coming days, said Jose Ignacio Quintero, a manager for Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent SA, which is carrying out the project. (AP, 01-19-2011;

Venezuela, Ecuador mull ALBA development fund
Venezuela and Ecuador are proposing to strengthen economic ties through the creation of a joint development fund under the aegis of a leftist regional economic bloc, Venezuela's top diplomat said Monday. Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said the South American countries are looking to define the fund's objectives within the framework of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Nations of Our America, or ALBA, which Venezuela and Cuba started as a socialist-oriented trade alliance in 2004.Maduro said the fund would be used to finance ALBA goals, including strengthening regional trade. He did not give other details such as how much money would be committed or how the fund would work. (AP, 01-17-2011;

Venezuela, Haiti with the highest political risk in the region
Aon Corporation, a global provider of risk management services, released a Political Risk Map that ranked Venezuela as one of the 11 countries with the highest political risk in the world. Venezuela's level of risk was only matched by Haiti, a country that is mired in a serious social, economical and political crisis. According to AON, Venezuela has a high risk in all the variables analyzed in the study, including war and political violence, sovereign default risk, and foreign exchange transfer problems. In addition to this, Venezuela and Colombia are the only countries in the hemisphere that have war risks. (El Universal, 01-20-2011;,-haiti-wit_20A5014815.shtml)

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.

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17th, 2011

Economics, & Finance

Another Venezuela currency devaluation
Venezuela is likely to devalue its currency again soon after President Hugo Chavez scrapped a plan to increase the country's sales tax as analysts said the impact of New Year devaluation had been limited. Wall Street experts had welcomed the socialist president's plan to hike the recession-hit economy's sales tax and maybe put in place a new bank tax and other moves to generate income. (Reuters, 01-17-2011;

PDVSA is authorized to trade bonds in the state-run stock exchange
The state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) was authorized to negotiate up to USD 6 billion of its bond portfolio. With this transaction, the new state-run securities exchange will be ready to start operations. The state-run Bicentennial Stock and Bond Exchange (Bolsa Publica de Valores Bicentenaria) is expected to start operations in the next few days. Bonds will be traded in the market. According to analysts, it will be a source of foreign currency under a foreign exchange control implemented in Venezuela in 2003. (El Universal, 01-14-2011;

Venezuela's industrialists ask for a single exchange rate
The Venezuelan Confederation of Industries (CONINDUSTRIA) urged the government to establish a "coordinated and stable" economic policy that sets, among other things, a "unique and competitive" exchange rate. "The domestic manufacturing sector reiterates that if Venezuela had stable and coordinated macroeconomic policies, as provided by the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and a single and competitive exchange rate, there would be a healthier economy, a stronger and more productive industry, and less dependence on imports. Therefore, Venezuela would not have the highest inflation rate in the hemisphere and an accelerated process of destruction of the national production apparatus". (El Universal, 01-12-2011;

Growing deindustrialization and dependence on oil
Official numbers reveal that in 12 years the government of President Hugo Chávez, far from eroding the rent-seeking condition of the Venezuelan economy, has reinforced a system that since the late eighties means stagnation and inability of sustainable wealth creation. The socialist project, focused on replacing the private sector, has enhanced a scheme of deindustrialization where the country technically exports oil only. In the meantime, imports soar and the State allocates oil revenues by selling cheap dollars, thickening the payroll of public servants and granting subsidies. Numbers provided by the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) put non-oil exports ending 2010 at USD 3.43 billion, 18.8 percent below USD 4.22 billion in 1999. (El Universal, 01-14-2011;

Domestic output tumbles; foreign purchases soar
From a premise of agricultural and food security and sovereignty, the government has implemented policies and regulations that have by no means favored domestic production. On the contrary, the move has laid a siege to the agribusiness sector, resulting in less production and growing dependence on imports. As a result of such government policies, domestic production is undergoing deep recession. According to the Venezuelan National Confederation of Farmers' Association (FEDEAGRO), 70 percent of the food consumed in the country is imported. For this reason, the association has urged the government to boost agriculture with fair trade policies and fair prices. (El Universal,

Venezuela and Ecuador trade with new virtual currency
Ecuador sent Venezuela an initial shipment of crude palm oil under a new trade currency regime known as the Unified System for Regional Compensation, or Sucre, the Ecuadorian government said. Ecuador’s state-run National Development Bank, or BNF, said Tuesday the shipment carrying 5,000 metric tons of crude palm oil – part of a bi-monthly export agreement between firms in both countries – left for Venezuela on Dec. 31. (Latin American Herald, 01-13-2011;

Venezuelan government intervention of Banco Industrial, and its subsidiary FIVCA has been lifted, announced the Banking Institutions Superintendent Edgar Hernández Behrens. He explained the audit board of the bank which was intervened in 2009, presented a business plan for its recovery between 2011 and 2013. He said the members of the new board of directors will be appointed in the next two weeks. (Veneconomy, 01-12-2011;


Venezuela crude, products exports rise 10% in December
Venezuela’s net exports of crude and refined oil products rose 10 percent in December from the previous month to 2.24 million barrels a day, according to Inspectorate Venezuela SCS, a contractor to Venezuela’s Energy and Petroleum Ministry. Net shipments increased from a 2010 low of 2.03 million barrels a day in November, according to shipping records e- mailed to Bloomberg. Exports climbed 1.4 percent from a year earlier. Production of crude declined 4.1 percent to 2.69 million barrels a day in November from 2.8 million barrels a day in October, Inspectorate also said today. (Bloomberg, 01-13-2011;

Venezuela raises oil reserves, Chavez says
President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela has dramatically increased its oil reserves and is now the world leader. Some experts, however, said the new figures are inflated and that Venezuela's oil industry is suffering serious problems. Chavez said Tuesday night that officials certified vast deposits of heavy crude in the Orinoco River basin in December, and that “we have reached 253 billion” barrel of oil. Gustavo Coronel, an energy consultant and former executive of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, said such a quick increase is technically impossible. (Washington Post, 01-12-2011;

PDVSA subsidizes a third of sales and finances 40% of exports
Petroleos de Venezuela will have problems in its revenue stream during 2011, even with high oil prices, as forecast by the experts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In a report warning that the government sold a third of exports below market price and 40% of foreign sales are on credit. "We estimate that 1 million barrels will be sold at market price and nearly 500,000 barrels placed under the special conditions governing energy cooperation agreements," they say. (El Nacional, 01-13-2011;

Venezuelan steelmaker announces investment plan to expand production
Venezuela-based steel manufacturer Siderurgica del Orinoco "Alfredo Maneiro" Sidor announced Monday a new investment plan and infrastructure improvements that will aid in accomplishing its production targets for 2011, which aim to reach four million metric tons of liquid steel. Sidor produced 1,804,000 mt of liquid steel in 2010. (VHeadline, 01-11-2011;

Cemex and Venezuela would make their “friendly agreement” on the amount the Venezuelan government is to pay for the expropriation of three cement plants among other assets in the next days. Swiss UBS office in Mexico said $650 million for a 75.7% stake in the company would be a “reasonable” amount; the same amount the government promised to pay Swiss company Holcim. (Veneconomy, 01-11-2011;


Venezuela's Chavez could shorten decree powers
Venezuela's President said on Saturday he was not a dictator and could reduce his much-criticized 18-month decree powers to a shorter period if laws were implemented to attend an emergency caused by floods. "I am capable of asking this National Assembly to overturn the Enabling Law," he told parliament of the measure giving him fast-track decree powers. "In five months we might be able to carry out all the laws to manage the emergency." (Reuters, 01-15-2011;

Government invites private sector to work together to increase domestic production
Based on the projection that Venezuela will have an economic growth of 2% this year, President Hugo Chavez made a call to the private sector to work jointly with the Government. “To the private sector that works and likes to work, if you need support from the Government, here you have my hands to work together to rise the domestic production, the small, middle and big companies,” he said on Saturday during the presentation of the 2010 Annual Report and Accounts. (AVN; 01-15-2011;

Venezuela among the countries where democracy has reversed
Democracy significantly retreated in 25 countries in 2010, and the democratic world did not resist the process, Freedom House, an independent group which monitors the status of liberties, reported on Thursday. Latin America was represented in this list by Venezuela, Mexico and Haiti. (El Universal, 01-13-2011;

Vargas Llosa: What is happening in Venezuela is catastrophic
"What is happening in Venezuela is catastrophic," the 2010 Nobel Laureate, Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, said on Thursday in Uruguay, in reference to the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. These few remarks leaked, so far, from a private speech delivered in a hotel of the Uruguayan city of Punta del Este, where the writer is engaged in a number of activities. (El Universal, 01-13-2011;

Opposition plans to ask for Venezuela's entry into Mercosur
The opposition bloc of the Venezuelan Parliament Group to the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino), composed of five deputies, prepared a "draft agreement" that will be introduced in next-week’s session. The purpose is seeking the unanimous approval of a request made to Paraguay to let Venezuela enter Mercosur. (VHeadline, 01-11-2011;

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.