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.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February 15th, 2011

Economics & Finance

Venezuela's operational reserves cover only 2.89 months of imports
The country operational reserves were pegged at the end of last year at 9.168 million dollars, according to the balance sheet of the entity's financial statements, published yesterday in the Official Gazette N º 39,614, dated February 11, 2011. This level of reserves sufficient to cover 2.89 months of imports, according to the level maintained in 2010. More information in Spanish. (Entorno Inteligente, 02-15-2011;

Venezuelan exports to the US increased by 16.6% during 2010, according to figures published the US Census Bureau. Venezuela exported goods for $32.7 million. According to Venamcham, 96.80% of these exports ($31.7 million) are oil and related products while the remaining 3.21% is other products (($1.04 million). (Veneconomy, 02-11-2011;

January Inflation accelerates to 2.7%
Venezuela’s inflation index, the INPC accelerated in January, registering a value of 2.7%, higher than December’s 1.8% and the highest since April of 2010. With this value inflation for the last twelve months has been 28.5%, above last year’s value. While the Government has yet to approve increases for controlled items after the devaluation from Bs. 2.6 per US$ to Bs. 4.3 per US$, non controlled items led rises with Health, up 4.5% in January, Food and non-alcoholic beverages, up 4% and Diverse Goods and Services up 3.3 % leading the way. Most of the increases in Food and non-alcoholic beverages were in unprocessed items and garden products. The Government wants to play hardball in the approval of price increases in the food and health sectors in the next few months, but given the large devaluation in the foreign currency assigned to these products, it will have to approve increases before May as the alternative of widespread shortages has proven to be more damaging than inflation in the last few years. (bbo Weekly Report, 02-14-2011;

Colombian and Venezuelan FA Ministers will review debt status
Colombian and Venezuelan Foreign Affairs ministers will meet in Caracas Tuesday, February 15 to review the status of the debt with Colombian exporters, estimated at $800 million. Colombian FA Minister María Ángela Holguín said today Venezuela says it has already paid some $600 million but there are a lot of complaints from the Colombian side about not effectively receiving payment. (Veneconomy, 02-11-2011;

After eight years of controls, Venezuelan economy in a labyrinth
In February 2003, the government of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez imposed price controls on more than half of the items in the “basic basket” and, at the same time, imposed foreign exchange controls in order to curb capital flight and stabilize the Venezuelan bolívar. However, the results are not those expected. Inflation increased by 405 percent over the past 12 quarters, undermining purchasing power. At the same time, the Venezuelan bolivar has been hit by severe devaluation. Parity of the US dollar in the official market increased 168 % from VEB 1.6 to VEB 4.30. Price controls discouraged domestic production, just as in the past. Supply plummeted and the government has been forced to allow substantial upward price adjustments in essential goods in order to avoid shortages of goods. (El Universal, 02-14-2011;

Former Chavez minister says "Some parity able to express productivity must be found"
The government bears many minuses in economics; but one takes precedence over the rest. So-called 21st Century Socialism expands dependence on oil revenues and fails to diversify local production. According to statistics from the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), non-oil exports in 2010 fell 18.8 percent versus 1999, whereas manufacturing diminished from 16 percent of GDP when Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez took office, to 15 percent last year. In view of Víctor Álvarez, a former Minister of Basic Industries and Mining, "rent-seeking inertia" has prevailed. While he advocates "a new production model" in his research at the Miranda International Center (CIM), he also says "the economic policy should be revised and straightened." (El Universal, 02-14-2011;


PDVSA reportedly is studying gasoline rationing
"Every time you fill your gas tank, are using the cheapest in the world, and your government is subsidizing more than 90% of what it really costs," said President Hugo Chavez on Sunday, without disclosing that the Ministry of Energy and Oil, has been discussing the issue of rates and the possibility of rationing consumption in vehicles. "We must begin to reduce gasoline consumption," added the president, with figures provided by the Minister of Energy and Petroleum Rafael Ramirez, said that the annual cost for Petróleos de Venezuela to produce gasoline is 1.5 billion dollars annually, an amount that can’t be recovered with sales. More information in Spanish. (Entorno Inteligente, 02-15-2011;

PDVSA: Venezuela To Receive Four Aframax Oil Ships From Japan
Venezuela will receive four Aframax-sized oil tankers from a Japanese company, state-run oil giant Petróleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, said in a statement Thursday. The announcement comes on the heels of a three-day summit between officials from both countries, and did not reveal the name of the Japanese manufacturer. Delivery of the first ship is expected in early March, and two more will be delivered later this year. The final vessel will arrive during the first quarter of 2012, the company said. Venezuela has not received a Japanese oil ship in nearly 30 years, according to PDVSA. During the meetings, PDVSA said it signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan's Marubeni Corp. to evaluate joint projects in the petrochemical sector. It also is looking at undertaking a deep conversion project at the Puerto la Cruz refinery and an expansion of the El Palito refinery, in conjunction with Mitsubishi Corp. and Itochu Corp. (Fox Business, 02-10-2011;

Venezuela loses $1.5 bln a year through local gasoline subsidies
Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA loses around $1.5 billion a year through domestic subsidies that make the South American OPEC member's gasoline the cheapest in the world, the energy minister said on Sunday. At a cost of $0.03-0.04 per liter ($0.11-0.15 per gallon), most Venezuelans can fill their tank for under a dollar. And since deadly protests in Caracas in 1989, successive governments have been wary of changing the subsidy policy and hiking prices. "Compared to the cost of production, (the subsidy) is more than $1.5 billion (per year)," Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez, who is also president of PDVSA, told President Hugo Chavez when consulted about the issue on a government TV program. (Reuters, 02-13-2011;

Venezuelan State Oil Giant’s Profits Fall 85% in 3rd Quarter – Still Up 35% for Year on Higher Prices
Venezuelan state oil giant Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. reported a 35% increase In net profits for the January-September 2010 period, compared with the same three quarters of the previous year. For the first nine months of 2010, PDVSA’s net profits totaled just under $3.5 billion, up from $2.6 billion for that same period of 2009, and its total sales from continuing operations climbed 27% to $65.7 billion. The increase in those figures was due to a higher average price of crude in that period of 2010, when the per-barrel price rose to $72.69, compared with $57.02 for those same nine months of 2009. At the same time, the company's profit in the third quarter fell to $358 million from $2.366 billion in the previous year's third quarter, an 85% fall. (Latin American Herald Tribune, 02-11-2011;

Venezuelan oil basket falls USD 1.96 to USD 85.64 per barrel
The price of the Venezuelan oil basket fell this week and ended at USD 85.64 per barrel, down USD 1.96 compared to last week. The average price so far this year is USD 85.75. The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum reported that the high availability of crude oil and products have led, among other factors, to a drop in oil prices. (El Universal, 02-11-2011;

Power unit 16 of Guri hydroelectric plant is out of service
Unit 16 of Guri hydroelectric plant, Venezuela’s main source of power generation, has beeen temporarily out of service as of last weekend. There are currently other five units (4, 6, 8, 9, 12) out of service. Some reports through Twitter claim that the unit is at a standstill due to the breakdown of a wound gasket. Following the unit´s shutdown, the National Interconnected System (SIN) will not receive 630 MW. Therefore, there will be the need "to ration 1,100 MW throughout the country." (El Universal, 02-14-2011;

Logistics & Transport

La Guaira port mobilized 75 ships in January
The terminal port of La Guaira mobilized 75 ships in January this year. Data were provided by the Central Coast Ports Company (PLC), a subsidiary of Bolivariana de Puertos (BOLIPUERTOS). The agency said57 boats arrived at the wharf in January 2010, which means an increase of 31.58%. The moored motorboats that are mostly container (65), general cargo (1), RO / RO (2), bulk (1), passenger ships (5) and others (1). As for exports, PLC highlights from the port of La Guaira out 24 metric tons of general cargo. However, 24,685 tons of general cargo and bulk were imports for the month of January. More information in Spanish. (Entorno Inteligente, 02-14-2011;


Republican Lawmaker Mack Proposes U.S. Embargo on Venezuela
Republican Congressman Connie Mack of Florida, who has been very critical of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, once again called for Washington to put Venezuela on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism and to impose a “full-scale economic embargo” on Caracas. At the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, the largest yearly gathering of conservative activists which serves as a place for presidential hopefuls to measure their early support, Mack on Saturday devoted almost his entire speech to Chavez, whom he called a “thugocrat” who resorts to using weapons such as oppression, aggression, terrorism and drugs to “destroy” Latin American freedom and democracy. (Latin American Herald Tribune, 02-13-2011;

Venezuela's Chavez mocks foes' Egypt comparisons
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez scoffed on Sunday at comments by critics that his 12-year rule was at risk of a people's uprising like that which toppled Egypt's Hosni Mubarak after three decades in power. "I laugh when some clever analysts from the Venezuelan opposition try to compare my government with that of ex-president Hosni Mubarak in Egypt," Chavez said during his regular weekly "Hello, President!" program. "They're crazy, they're wrong, they have no sense."  (Reuters, 02-13-2011;

Venezuela's Chavez predicts 'revolution' will continue - whether he dies or retires
President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that he has no intention of ceasing his efforts to make Venezuela a socialist country, and he expressed confidence that his allies would take the reins of his "Bolivarian Revolution" if he died or decided to step down. "There's no end here, this is going to continue," said Chavez, referring to the political movement he named after 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar. (AP, 02-13-2011;

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.

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