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, January 22, 2013

January 22th, 2013

Economics & Finance

Key pro Government legislator forecasts FOREX rate adjustment in Venezuela
Rodrigo Cabezas, former Finance Minister and Speaker of the Latin American Parliament, says some economic adjustments are to be implemented in 2013 in Venezuela, and will be announced gradually by the relevant ministers.
Adjustments may include changes in the price of some goods and services, and the foreign exchange rate, as well as some fiscal reforms and steps to curb speculation. Cabezas says "the main thing we must do is preserve growth" and ensure competitiveness, not simply use devaluation for fiscal purposes which has always been inflationary". (El Universal, 01-21-2013;

Central Bank seeks shelter in US dollar to protect international reserves
Despite past verbal attacks by President Hugo Chávez on the US dollar, the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) is relying on US bills for international reserves.  BCV's President Nelson Merentes explains that "for the purpose of minimizing the risks stemming from the widespread global economic crisis, it (the BCV) privileged safety and liquidity in its investment strategy for international reserves, and therefore it cut down non-US dollar exposure, as other foreign currencies were expected to depreciate." (El Universal, 01-19-2013;

Domestic debt up 62% in 2012
The Venezuelan government is now issuing debt massively in bolivars in order to meet skyrocketing public spending. As a consequence, devaluation would grant the government more bolivars for dollars and immediately reduce the  burden on public accounts. Research firm SÍNTESIS FINANCIERA has just reported that Venezuela's domestic debt, that is the debt in bolivars, closed 2012 at VEB 249.3 billion (U$D 57.97 billion) in 2012, 62% higher than in 2011, rising from 9% of GDP to 16.3% of GDP. (El Universal, 01-21-2013;

Venezuela's population increased by over 4.1 million between 2001 and 2011 for a total 28.946 million, according to Census data released  by the National Statistics Institute. The report reveals 88.8% live in urban areas and 11.2% in rural areas. More in Spanish: (AVN, 01-22-2013;

Abandoned U$D 200 million government owned rice processing plant occupied by 1500 unemployed
A rice processing plant bought from China at a cost of U$D 200 million, which was abandoned on Cocuina Island in Delta Amacuro State has been taken over by over 1500 unemployed inhabitants of the region. Occupiers demand the project be reactivated and include them as workers. More in Spanish: (El Nacional, 01-22-2013;


Ambani said to mull U$D 2 billion Venezuela spend
Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) plans to spend more than U$D 2 billion on Venezuelan oil fields, betting President Hugo Chavez’s failing health won’t lead to political upheaval, said a person with direct knowledge of the decision. The operator of the world’s biggest refining complex is jointly assessing investments in four oilfields in with state-run company Petróleos de Venezuela SA, said the person, who asked not to be identified, citing confidentiality terms. Reliance is waiting for data on the blocks from PDVSA to start the due diligence process, the person said. (Bloomberg, 01-21-2013;

FAO reports hunger virtually eliminated in Venezuela, a major regional importer of wheat, corn and soy
The FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean's recently published "Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security for 2012" shows Venezuela has a very low hunger index within the region and "has managed to eliminate hunger, with an index under 5% as the regional average is 8.3%, due to MERCAL and other government sponsored programs. The report points out Venezuela is one of the 5 major importers of wheat, corn and soy in the region. More in Spanish: (El Nacional, 01-22-2013l;

International Trade

Food imports from Argentina will increase in order to prevent shortages the government does not admit to. The announcement was made by Vice President Nicolás Maduro and Argentinean Planning Minister Julio De Vido during an event in Caracas. The goal is to guarantee Venezuela “has a three month intact food reserve and no one in the market can leave short of basic products,” explained Maduro. (Veneconomy, 01-20-2013;

Venezuela will spend U$D 16 million in Uruguay milk imports
Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro says President José Mujica's recent support to the Chavez regime has opened up Uruguayan powdered milk exports to Venezuela. He announced an agreement to send Venezuela 4500 tons of powdered milk monthly for a total around U$D 16 million. More in Spanish:  (El Universal, 01-22-2013;

Logistics & Transport

Port costs fuel inflation
Cipriana Ramos, FEDECÁMARAS Vargas President and coordinator of the Customs and Port Affairs Committee says imported products have to wait about 45 days to be nationalized at an average daily cost of U$D 15,000 as well as additional payments to the Port Authority which hit both the importer and the final consumer as they become reflected in inflation. More in Spanish: (Tal Cual, 01-21-2013;

Imports are projected at 2,500 containers, plans to expedite cargo are announced
SENIAT, Venezuela's tax authority, along with the Port Authority (BOLIPUERTOS) and the CASA food distribution system are estimating 2,500 food containers will arrive over the next few months and hope to dispatch 100 units daily by increasing the number of processing offices for food and bulk imports to 6, working 24x7 at Puerto Cabello port. They also say there will be a permanently open Non-Intrusive Inspection Circuit. More in Spanish: (Notitarde, 01-22-2013;

New General Managers appointed at ports nationwide: all of them are military, according to Official Gazette 40.092 dated 17 January 2013. More in Spanish: (Bolipuertos, 01-21-2013;


Chavez brother says leader expected to return home from Cuba in 'coming days'
One of Hugo Chavez's brothers says the Venezuelan president is expected to return home from Cuba in the coming days as he continues to recover nearly six weeks after undergoing cancer surgery. Argenis Chavez is one of the president's five brothers and the president of the National Electric Corporation. He tells The Associated Press that the president continues to recover. He said after an event Monday at the Supreme Court that the decision about when Chavez returns is up to his medical team but that he is expected to return to Venezuela in the "coming days." (Fox News, 01-21-2013;; The Washington Post,

Maduro says Chavez to start new step in recovery
President Hugo Chavez will soon enter a new stage in his recovery from a fourth cancer operation in Cuba, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said, without providing further details. Maduro says he last saw Chavez Jan. 14 during a visit to the Venezuelan president’s bedside in Cuba. “He is stabilizing in all his medical indicators, in the function of his organs, in all his fundamental vital indicators and is fully conscious,” Maduro said today in an interview on the Televen television network. “He is gaining vital strength to begin a second stage of recovery that will be announced through official reports.” (Bloomberg, 01-20-2013;; El Universal;; Latin American Herald Tribune,; Fox News,

Maduro will travel to Chile, along with Elías Jaua to attend the two summits to be held this week, announced Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Alfredo Moreno on Monday. The Latin American and Caribbean States Community (CELAC) Summit with the European Union will be held on January 26 and 27 and a CELAC Summit will take place on Monday, January 28. (Veneconomy, 01-21-2013;; El Universal;

Foreign minister Jaua in Havana, plans foreign policy discussions with ailing Chavez
Venezuela's top diplomat says he plans to visit President Hugo Chavez in Cuba, where the ailing leader remains out of sight more than a month after a fourth cancer- recovering from cancer surgery. Foreign Minister Elias Jaua says he intends to meet with Chavez to discuss Venezuelan foreign policy. (Fox News, 01-23-2013;

Envoy says Venezuela open to better ties with U.S.
Venezuela's government is open to improving troubled ties with Washington and is considering a U.S. proposal for the return of anti-drug agents kicked out of the country eight years ago by President Hugo Chavez, a senior official said.
There has been no word from Chavez since he had cancer surgery in Cuba five weeks ago, so every move the government makes in his absence is being picked over for clues to what the OPEC nation might look like in a post-Chavez era. Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Roy Chaderton, said U.S.-Venezuela relations were "not hot, not cold. Zero degrees". (Reuters, 01-20-2013;

Colombia's Santos:  "I do not think as Chavez does, but respect differences"
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says his government has seriously tried to respect the balance of power, and that "there cannot be good government without total press freedom". He also say he is far from agreeing with President Chavez, but seeks to find common issues to work together despite while respecting differences. More in Spanish: (El Nacional, 01-22-2013;

Supreme Court President Luisa Estella Morales pledges support for "Bolivarian socialism"
She made here statements in the opening ceremonies for the 2013 judicial period, and specifically mentioned the five key objectives in the plan presented by President Chavez for 2013-2019, including "the continuing construction of XXIst century Bolivarian socialism". More in Spanish: (El Nacional, 01-22-2013;

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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