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, April 11, 2014

April 11, 2014

International Trade
Inbound cargo at Puerto Cabello
116.000 tons of frozen beef from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, for the CASA government agency.
32,000 tons of yellow corn from US ADM Américas to Alimentos Balanceados Tinaquillo.
4,999 tons of yellow corn from Bunge Latin America to Concentrados Valera, along with 1,999 of soybean meal 20.000 tons of Canadian wheat from Avalon Grain for Pastas Capri
18.000 tons of soybean meal
7.000 tons of malt
4.500 tons of barley
2.000 tons of chicken from Mulsa, Granja Tres Arroyos, Bonnen Hermanos and el Frigorífico de Aves Sochuy for CASA
1.643 tons of frozen chicken from Rasic Hermanos for CASA
Over 1,500 tons of sodium phosphate from Potashcorp for PROAGRO.
871 tons of construction supplies from Isotex Dominicana for PDVSA
720 tons of meat from Brazil RXM Importación y Exportación for CASA
563 tons of milk and concentrated cream, from Argentina for PDVSA, CASA and BARIVEN
427 tons of chicken and 201.000 tons of meat from Granja Tres Arroyos for CASA
384 tons of parts for government power plants
231 tons of meat from Brazil's Domvil for CASA
167 tons of frozen chicken from Frigorífico Garina Saic for CASA
112 tons of aluminum tubing from China Machinery Engineering (CHEM) sent to its subsidiary in Venezuela
10.200 Brazilian heads of cattle from Cooperativa Catalpa for Inversiones 6308, Inveragro and Importadora Nutricional
4.913 tons (10.100 heads) of Brazilian cattle for several consignees
2.992 tons (6.100 head) of cattle for Distribuidora Alemán, Importadora San Pedro e Inversiones 6308
Exports: Several loads of aluminum products, cattle skins and coaxial cables were sent to Colombia and the US.

Newsprint arrives
300 tons of printing and writing paper from United States, Pérez Trading for Multi Suministros Plastitol.

Logistics & Transport
Government to acknowledge only up to 70% of the $3.8 billion debt it has with international air carriers and at the SICAD 2 exchange rate while dismissing between 29% and 35% of that debt accrued in 2013. (Veneconomy,

Oil & Energy
Asia overtakes U.S. as top destination for Venezuela oil –PDVSA
Asia overtook North America last year as the main destination for Venezuelan exports of crude oil and processed fuels, according to preliminary data submitted to parliament by state oil company PDVSA. Asia received an average of 1.04 million barrels per day (bpd) from Venezuela in 2013, up a fifth compared with the previous year. Meanwhile, exports to the United States, Canada and Mexico fell 11% to 879,000 bpd. PDVSA said it was increasing shipments to Asia, while maintaining those to South and Central America and the Caribbean, as part of a long-held strategy of market diversification. Asia accounted for 41% of Venezuela's oil exports last year, PDVSA said, with the majority being received by China at 563,000 bpd, and India at 396,000 bpd. The decline in Venezuelan oil shipments to the United States has affected PDVSA's Houston-based refining subsidiary, CITGO Petroleum Corp, which no longer receives processed fuels, condensate or light sweet crude from Venezuela. (Reuters,

PDVSA exports to PETROCARIBE nations rose 21% in 2013
During 2013, PDVSA dispatched 122,000 barrels per day to nations participating in the PETROCARIBE system, for an increase of 21%. Those nations benefitted were Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Granada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Surinam". PDVSA supplies 50% of the energy needs of member nations. (El Universal,

PDVSA social spending was down 18% in 2013 as income drops 7%, earnings come from devaluation
PDVSA has reported that their 2013 income was around U$D 116.2 billion, down 7% from 2012, and expenditures for social programs dropped 18% to U$D 14.1 billion. Total expenses were U$D 75.8 billion, 21% below 2013. According to the report, the U$D 8.2 billion setback was "mainly caused by a 2% decrease in the average export price of the Venezuelan oil basket, from U$D 103.42 per barrel in 2012 to U$D 101.40 per barrel in 2013." (El Universal,; and more in Spanish: El Nacional,

STRATFOR special report: Politics cloud the chances of an energy sector revival
For the Venezuelan energy sector uncertainty will remain prevalent, limiting the government's ability to address key structural concerns. Karen Hooper, Director of STRATFOR's Latin America analytical section, says "the political issues that are at stake really aren't going away so we'll probably see those spring up again in the coming months...but Rafael Ramirez, was promoted to be in charge of the country's economic planning just recently, and we did see them settle a negotiation with the PDVSA laborers to give them a 90% raise for their next contract. PDVSA (has) given China and Chinese companies a leg up in investing in Venezuela, but there hasn't really been a recovery in energy production in Venezuela, no matter what the government is reporting, production has really declined. Everybody in Venezuela who's vying for participation in the government or control of the country has an interest in that energy infrastructure existing and persisting so that when they come to power they are able to sort of glean the benefits from it. The threats to energy exports from Venezuela are really not that big this time around...The biggest challenge though is that the sector is overall underinvested...We need to be looking for the new fiscal regime, to see how much they are going to be able to rein in inflation, shortages, things like that, things that are affecting not just consumers on a day-to-day basis but also energy producers, so there are shortages of cement, there are shortages of steel in Venezuela. These are all affecting the ability of foreign investors and domestic actors to be able to even actually service oil production in Venezuela. We also have to make sure we're keeping an eye on how labor morale is at PDVSA because challenges in the unions there could really impact output and also exports. So that's what we're watching, but overall it looks like there's going to continue to be a slow decline in the quality of output and also the quantity of output that the energy infrastructure is able to handle, and we'll just be looking for those disruptive signs going forward." More important would be possible changes in government spending and subsidies. Officials have acknowledged that electricity rates will have to rise, because the government can no longer afford to subsidize 80% of the cost of the utility. Raising the extremely low cost of gasoline is also under discussion... (But) the greatest potential threat to Maduro comes from a loss of legitimacy with the base of support that drove Chavez's ascendance..(which).. could worsen the unrest and force the military to step in against Maduro. But if the president does not make the difficult economic decisions that could negatively affect his base of support, widespread economic deterioration is likely. In short, he faces a loss of political power whether or not he implements reforms. All of this uncertainty, combined with the legacy of nationalization left to Maduro by Chavez, has made foreign investors wary...Best-case scenarios suggest it would take tens of billions of dollars and 5 to 10 years before a real reversal in Venezuela's energy fortunes would be seen. (STRATFOR,

FX regime wiping out car makers, vehicle production plunges 76.07%. One of the world’s most complex foreign exchange regimes is wiping out profits at some of the world’s biggest carmakers. First, FORD said it would take a charge of U$D 350m in the first quarter because of currency losses in Venezuela. Next, GM said it expected to take a pre-tax charge of U$D 400m in the first quarter for the same reason, cancelling out the U$D 327m it made in South America during 2013. Both companies took the hit because they could not cash out the Bolívares they make in Venezuela at the official exchange rate of 6.3 Bolívares to the dollar. Both have said they will now use one of the central bank’s alternative FX platforms, SICAD 1, where the rate is about 10.7. This adds to an already grim outlook for car makers in Venezuela. Manufacturers are operating far below capacity for lack of components and supplies. TOYOTA has simply stopped producing, while FORD said in January it was cutting output. “That market is basically on ice at the moment,” says Bob Shanks, Ford’s chief financial officer. According to the latest data from Venezuela’s chamber of carmakers, CAVENEZ, Ford produced 292 units and GM 232 in February. In total, 1,425 cars were produced that month, compared to 5,817 in February 2013. When it comes to sales, merely 817 cars were sold in the country in February – a 90% drop from the previous year. Only 3,424 vehicles were assembled in January-March. The sector shrunk 76.08% compared with the same period in 2013, when production totaled 14,316 vehicles. (Financial Times,; El Universal,

The scarcity index rose to 31.03% in March for 58 staples that make up the basic food basket, according to the reputable Teachers’ Federation’s Documentation and Social Analysis Center (CENDAS-FVM, in Spanish). The report also shows that other staples other than food are also scarce, such as soap, detergents, dishwashers, toilet paper, bleach, diapers, softeners and napkins. (Veneconomy,

Consumer product inventories down to 0.6 months, says Pedro Manosalva, of Nielsen Venezuela, who is chairman of the VENAMCHAM Consumer Products Committee. Shortages are due to FOREX restrictions, so there will be an "additional impact" on scarcities and recovery will not be immediate. More in Spanish: (El Universal,

Economy & Finance
Venezuela hits 18-year inflation record, the IMF predicts 133% in 2016, further contraction
Venezuela is expected to see an inflation rate of 50.7% this year, the International Monetary Fund estimates. That will be an 18-year high, according to a LATINVEX analysis of IMF data. However, the IMF predicts it will get even worse in Venezuela. Two years from now, the country should see a whopping 133.4% inflation, the fund says. That would mark an all-time high in the South American country, beating the previous record from 1996 of 99.9%. This year’s estimated inflation in Venezuela will be the world’s highest for the second year in a row. The IMF also predicts Venezuela's economy will continue to deteriorate and will shrink by 0.5% this year, amid "high uncertainty". (LATINVEX,; and more in Spanish: El Universal,

Trade has slowed down by 17.4%, according to the commercial and business survey responded by merchants for the 4th quarter and presented by CONSECOMERCIO. Also, it shows 40.2% of the merchants polled indicate inventories have been reduced. They point out their main problem is inflation, followed by insecurity, lack of FX for imports, price regulations and disloyal competition from the informal sector. (Veneconomy,; El Universal,

U$D 15 billion foreign credit freeze reported
Affiliates of the Venezuelan American Chamber of Commerce (VENAMCHAM) report frozen dividend repatriations are around U$D 10 billion for the past 5-6 years. General Manager Carlos Tejera also reports companies now owe their headquarters or foreign suppliers "around U$D 13 billion", and the amount has grown over the past few months and credit has dried up. More in Spanish: (El Universal,; El Mundo,;

DATOS: 77% are purchasing half the food they need
DATOS polling company general manager Luis Maturén reports that their latest survey shows crime, the high cost of living and scarcities are the main problems facing Venezuela's population. The report also shows 77% say they can purchase less than half of their needs. More in Spanish: (El Universal,; El Mundo,

Maduro and opposition in landmark crisis talks
President Nicolas Maduro has met opposition leaders in crisis talks aimed at quelling weeks of protests. Maduro met his bitter rival, opposition leader Henrique Capriles, for six hours. More talks are scheduled for Tuesday. The meeting was brokered by foreign ministers from South American nations, and the Vatican. Maduro told the meeting that there would be no deal with the opposition. "There are no negotiations here. No pacts. All we're looking for is a model of peaceful coexistence, of mutual tolerance," he said, and called on the opposition to renounce violence. Capriles, who was narrowly defeated in last year's presidential election, insisted that the opposition did not want a coup against the government. "We don't want a coup d'etat. We don't want an explosion on the streets," he said. "Either this situation changes or it bursts. I hope it changes because I don't want violence." Capriles also accused Maduro of being disrespectful to the Venezuelan people: "How are you going to ask the country to accept you if you call half the country fascists or you threaten them?" he asked. "I think it is very difficult to govern a country where half the people are against you." The talks were broadcast live on television. Pope Francis sent a letter giving his support to the talks: "I urge you not to get stuck in the conflict of the moment but open yourselves to one another to become true builders of peace," the Roman Catholic leader said, in a letter read out at the meeting. . 11 opposition and 8 government representatives spoke. Participants traded accusations and demands, including amnesty for political prisoners, economic solutions, and an explicit condemnation of all violence. Henry Ramos-Allup, Secretary General of the opposition AD party said that today Venezuelans arose with "another vision of the country", which gives the public a full vision of both sides so that they can evaluate. He also said students will also enter into discussions with President Maduro to state their grievances. There will be follow up meetings and Vice President Jorge Arreaza, Caracas Mayor Jorge Rodríguez and Foreign Minister Elías Jaua were designated as a committee to continue talks with representatives of the Democratic Unity Conference, the major opposition coalition. Key opposition leaders who led protests, including the imprisoned Leopoldo López, of Popular Will; Antonio Ledezma, of the Brave People´s Alliance; María Corina Machado, and major student leaders, refused to attend, demanding the release of all political prisoners as a precondition.  A local court is scheduled to decide on May 8th whether to try Leopoldo López, who is currently being held without bail in a military prison. (BBC; and more in Spanish: NTN24,; Ultimas Noticias,; Agencia Venezolana de Noticias;; El Nacional;; El Nacional;; El Universal,; Infolatam)

Lula advises Maduro to "call a coalition government", Maduro retorts is able to rule
Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has advised President Nicolás Maduro to call a coalition government to reduce political tensions between supporters and opponents of this regime. "Maduro should try to tone down public debate so he can devote his time entirely to governance, establish a coalition policy, construct a minimum program and diminish tensions. I am pushing for a negotiated solution because Venezuela is strategic to Brazil." Maduro promptly replies he is capable of ruling alone. (El Universal,

Washington will not accept a new Venezuelan ambassador for now
The United States said on Wednesday it will not consider Caracas' proposal to send a Venezuelan ambassador to Washington, terming it a "distraction" from the country's problems, which are internal rather than in Washington-Caracas bilateral relations. Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, told the US Congress that: "We feel very, very strongly that this is not about the bilateral relationship between the US and Venezuela, and therefore we are not taking action to allow a Venezuelan ambassador in the US yet". (El Universal,

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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