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, October 4, 2011

October 04th, 2011

Economics & Finance

Food shortages estimated at 30%, government forced to approve price increases
Luis Vicente León, President of the DATANÁLISIS polling firm, said food shortages exceed 30% in several areas, especially for oil, flour, sugars, etc. Despite efforts to blame the private sector, the Government has had to accept the real cost of producing for milk, corn oil and sunflower oil, and it is now expected price adjustments will be forthcoming. More in Spanish. (Descifrado, 10-03-2011; and Tal Cual, 10-04-2011;

Venezuela’s five key trading partners
Imports into Venezuela have increased significantly over the past few years, primarily by the Government. Currently, the five countries sending most supplies to Venezuela are: 1) US. Despite frozen relations, Venezuela bought U$D 4.711 billion from the US during the first semester 2011, according to official numbers. 2) China. Took second place after the political crisis between Venezuela and Colombia; with U$D 1.961 billion, which is 28% more than 2010. 3) Brazil, for U$D 1.406 billion, a figure similar to last year. 4) Spain. Rose by six places on the list, for U$D 1.076 billion, which triples the amount for last year. 5) México, for U$D 723 million, a 10% increase over last year. More in Spanish: (El Mundo, 10-04-2011;

Food Minister Carlos Osorio denies a drop in agricultural production, and claims sustainable development policies have increased product distribution capacity nationwide by over 60%. (Veneconomy, 10-03-2011;


Venezuela to invest U$D 45 billion to build, maintain refineries
State-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA says it will invest U$D 45 billion this decade to maintain its domestic refinery network in the country and build other crude-processing facilities. The director of PDVSA’s Paraguana complex, Jesus Luongo, made the announcement, saying the plan will also require the construction of adjacent “social infrastructure” to avoid creating “areas of poverty surrounding the oil installations.” In planning projects of this magnitude, “thought is given not only to oil infrastructure but also to the most important thing: people.” (Latin American Herald Tribune, 09-30-2011;

Venezuela oil falls below U$D100
Venezuela’s oil for export basket dropped U$D 3.67 a barrel this week, the second such weekly decline in a row and one the Energy and Oil ministry is now blaming on the “euro crisis”. The Venezuelan oil and products export basket fell to U$D 98.79 a barrel in the week of September 26-30, from $102.46 barrel the previous week. In a statement accompanying price information, the oil ministry said: “Concerns surrounding the debt crisis in the euro zone and the performance of the United States economy became the main factors weakening oil prices during this week.” (Latin American Herald Tribune, 09-30-2011;

Fuel prices to be stabilized in Dominican Republic due to PETROCARIBE contributions
Francisco Méndez, president of the Dominican Oil Refinery (REFIDOMSA), has proposed that benefits stemming from an additional 20,000 oil barrels per day provided by Venezuela, should be used  to create a fund to stabilize fuel prices. (AVN, 10-03-2011;

Bauxite transportation system severely damaged for lack of maintenance
BAUXILUM mining operations at Los Pijiguaos have taken a heavy blow when the motors for the giant conveyor belt that carries extracted bauxite to the El Jobal dock on the Orinoco river collapsed after working intensely without maintenance or spare parts. More in Spanish: (Tal Cual, 10-04-2011;

Rising international commodities prompt a review in oil and milk prices
The increase in international agricultural commodity prices has forced the government to review prices for foods such as corn oil, sunflower oil and milk powder. More in Spanish. (El Mundo, 10-03-2011;

PDVSA acquires stake in Argentine service stations
State-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) purchased the stake held by Uruguay’s state energy company ANCAP within Petrolera del Conosur (PDVSUR), which generates losses and owns a network of service stations in Argentina. The ANCAP stake was valued at U$D 11 million but the Uruguayan company will not receive that amount: It agreed instead that PDVSA alone will assume the financial debt of PDVSUR. (El Universal, 10-03-2011;


Chavez will return to Cuba for medical exams
President Chavez announced he will travel to Cuba in late October for medical exams, hours after dismissing a newspaper report that his health had deteriorated. Speaking by telephone on a state TV late night talk show, he said his condition was improving and that the exams will serve to “analyze the close of this cycle” of treatment; he added that he would not disclose the type of cancer he had because doing so would feed “people’s morbid curiosity” about his health. (Bloomberg Businessweek, 09-30-2011;

Belarus delegate in Caracas
Viktor Sheirman, Assistant to the president of Belarus Republic for Special Affairs, was welcomed at the Miraflores Presidential Palace President Hugo Chavez. His Sheiman’s visit aims at evaluating the bilateral agenda, which includes a project to construct 20 thousand homes in Venezuela, within the Grand Housing Mission Venezuela. It is also expected to create tractor factory and construction machinery. (AVN, 10-03-2011;

Colombia, Venezuela Foreign Ministers to meet
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro and his Colombian counterpart María Ángela Holguín are scheduled to meet in Bogotá 19- 20 October, ahead of a mid November meeting scheduled for Presidents Juan Manuel Santos and Hugo Chávez. More in Spanish: (AVN;

Venezuela, Guyana agree to negotiate maritime border
Diplomatic envoys of Venezuela and Guyana have signed a joint declaration stating their intent to “negotiate the delimitation of maritime boundaries between the two States.” According to official sources, a joint statement “was signed on Friday in Port of Spain, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, as the two ministers reviewed “several matters of mutual interest.” The document highlights say that “several issues of mutual interest, including Good Offices,” were reviewed. (El Universal, 10-01-2011;

All that’s gold doesn’t glitter
What do Hugo Chavez and Glenn Beck have in common? The socialist/populist president of Venezuela and the right-wing talk show host often have strange ideas – just not the same ones. But it turns out, they are both gold bugs.
Now, many people have been investing in gold. But Hugo Chavez wants to horde it literally, physically. The Venezuelan government controls the world’s 15th largest stockpile of gold: about 365 tons. But, like most gold investors, it doesn’t really have that gold. At least not physically. More than half of Venezuela’s reserves are held overseas in London, New York and Zurich. If you ever visit the New York federal reserve, you can even see it in the underground vaults, neatly labeled as Venezuela’s. (CNN, 10-03-2011;

BANESCO-USA starting operations in Puerto Rico
BANESCO USA, a Florida based company that is a part of the Venezuelan BANESCO group has begun commercial operations in Puerto Rico. Juan Carlos Escotet, head of the BANESCO Multinational Financial Group says “We are convinced that this is the best time to start operations here”. More in Spanish: (Tal Cual, 10-04-2011;

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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