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, July 22, 2011

July 22th, 2011

Economics & Finance

Venezuela’s possible debt crisis
Greece may have to move over. While global investors and financial regulators have been transfixed in recent months on a possible European debt crisis, Venezuela, a major oil exporter, ranks just behind the cradle of Western civilization in terms of the risk of defaulting on its debt and roiling global financial markets. Will its petrodollars be enough to keep it from default? While analysts say yes for now -- and probably for as long as oil prices stay high -- the long-term odds are not as good. London consultancy CMA Datavision July 7 gave Venezuela a greater than 51.4% chance of defaulting on its sovereign debt within five years. That puts it right behind Greece, which tops CMA’s list with an 80.6% chance. (Platts, 07-19-2011;

Venezuela bonds slide on speculation sale will top U$D 4 billion
Venezuelan bonds fell on speculation the government will sell more than U$D 4 billion of bonds to finance government programs, swelling the supply of debt in international markets. The yield on Venezuela’s benchmark 9.25% dollar bonds due in 2027 rose 15 basis points to 13.05% in New York, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The price on the bonds fell 0.82 cent on the dollar to 74.63 cents. Speculation is mounting that the offering will total about U$D 4.2 billion. A Finance Ministry press official declined to comment on the sale. (Bloomberg, 07-20-2011;

International reserves at $ 29.923 million
International reserves closed yesterday at U$D 29.923 million, having increased by U$D 473 million, according to the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV). More information in Spanish. (El Mundo, 07-22-2011;$29-923-millon.aspx)

Government to ban unauthorized price increases
The just published law on Costs and Prices authorizes Government control over any and all production, importation and marketing of all products and services it deems priority to ensure the population’s well being. The text on “Integrated National Costs and Prices” establishes controls on companies with profits deemed excessive in proportion to cost structures of goods produced and sold or services rendered. Companies are now required to inform and request permission from the government when they change production costs or prices. The act requires labeling that indicates amounts are calculated according to the new system. More information in Spanish. (El Nacional; 07-20-2011;

Experience shows market distortion has forced relaxation of price controls on 48 items
While the Executive insists on price controls as a strategy to stem the rise in prices, Central Bank figures reveal it has not been effective in combating inflation. After eight years of price regulations, the government has had to admit distortions generated by controls over the economy, and to authorize increases in regulated areas at least once a year and release product prices. It has had to exclude 48 controlled items from the original list of 106 retail food products published in February 2003. More information in Spanish. (El Universal; 07-21-2011;

World Bank to hear Koch arbitration against Venezuela
The World Bank will hear an arbitration case requested by U.S. company Koch Industries after Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez nationalized a fertilizer plant it owned with the OPEC nation's state oil firm. The World Bank's investment dispute body ICSID says on its website it will form a tribunal to hear the complaint by two subsidiaries of Koch, one of the world's largest privately owned companies. (Reuters, 07-20-2011;


OPEC certifies growth of Venezuelan oil reserves by 339% in last 5 years
The project Magna Reserva, launched in June 2005 to quantify and certify oil reserves at the Orinoco Oil Belt, was the key for Venezuela to become the country with the world’s largest oil reserves, adding up 296.5 billion barrels by the end of 2010. Said figure shows an increase of 339% of certified reserves in the last five years. According to the annual report issued by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2006, Venezuela owned a total of 87.32 billion barrels of certified reserves. Venezuela ranks over big oil exporting countries, such as Saudi Arabia (264.52 bn b); Iran (151.17 bn b); and Iraq (143.1 bn b). (AVN, 07-20-2011;

Venezuela boosts proven natgas reserves by 11.3 tcf
Venezuela boosted its proven reserves of natural gas by 11.3 trillion cubic feet (tcf), taking reserves to 195.1 tcf as of the end of 2010, according to the government's gazette circulating on Wednesday. The gazette did not specify from where the new reserves came. (Reuters, 07-20-2011;

PETROBAR’s debt with PDVSA is the result of the subsidy on gasoil prices, as well as a series of illegal operations and administrative sloppiness by the Paraguayan state oil company and prohibited by the Public Contract’s Office. Other multi-million dollar amounts that are part of the debt were due to the purchase of fuels from PDVSA without signed contracts. (Veneconomy, 07-21-2011;


DATANALISIS warns opposition results depend on official failure
José Antonio Gil Yepes, president of DATANÁLISIS, says that despite poll figures that show the opposition with a good chance of winning the 2012 presidential election, results depends largely on one factor controlled by the Government: "The main source of votes for the opposition is not from offering, or leadership, but what the other side (the government) does or does not". He explained that according to their statistics voting intentions between Hugo Chavez and combined opposition candidates are in a stalemate. More information in Spanish. (El Universal; 07-21-2011;

Role reversal: Latin America taunts US on debt woes
After three decades spent battling their own debt crises and getting constantly lectured about them by Uncle Sam, many Latin Americans are watching the countdown to a possible default in Washington with a mix of “schadenfraude” and fear of what a collapse might mean for them. For everybody from presidents on down to street vendors, seeing US politicians argue over where to make painful budget cuts has also been a reminder that those days are over in Latin America. For now, at least, as most of the region enjoys an era of economic prosperity and comparatively tiny deficits. (Reuters, 07-20-2011;

Peru and Venezuela Andean Community tariff preferences extended for 90 days
Peru and Venezuela agreed to extend Andean Community tariff preferences between the two countries for 90 days, according to Peruvian Minister of Foreign Trade, Eduardo Ferreyros, who said: "Both countries expressed their agreement to maintain the tariff preferences in force from July 22, 2011, and within 90 additional days, with the objective of concluding negotiations for a Trade and Productive Complementarities between Peru and Venezuela". More information in Spanish. (El Mundo, 07-22-2011;

Provisional tariff agreement with Colombia could be extended
The deadline set by the governments of Hugo Chavez and Juan Manuel Santos to maintain trade agreements between the two countries after Venezuela’s formal withdrawal from the Andean Community (CAN) ended as of July 21st.
At the time the extension was enacted President Santos had said: “As there is yet no new agreement, it was decided to extend the rules that now govern for three months, extendable, as the teams are still in negotiation". According to the Executive President of the Venezuela-Colombia Chamber of Commerce (CAVECOL) Luis Alberto Russián, some experts another extension of the 18 April agreement “is automatic”, while others believe a new decision should be published in order to eliminate any doubt. More information in Spanish. (El Universal; 07-22-2011; and

US Congress eliminates aid to Venezuela and allies
The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs has passed an amendment to remove in FY2012 US assistance to Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The move, championed by Republican Connie Mack -Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere- cuts out U$D 96 million requested by President Barack Obama in February. The decision does not include government funds to NGOs, AP reported. (El Universal, 07-22-2011;

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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