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, August 15, 2014

August 15, 2014

International Trade

Inbound cargo at Puerto Cabello:
  • 23,000 tons of wheat from Canadá Gavilon Grain for Pasta Sindoni C.A.
  • 13,980 tons of beef and chicken in 417 containers, from JBS SA for CASA
  • Over 8,999 tons of wheat from Desa Industries in the US for La Lucha C.A.
  • 4,229 tons of frozen beef, chicken and milk from Frigorífico de Aves Soychu Saicfia, Noelma S.A., Bonnin Hermanos SH y Sancor Cooperativas Unidas for CASA.
  • Over 1,740 tons of milk and margarine from JBS SA for CASA
  • Over 980 tons of fertilizer from Rusia Open Ipint Stock Company for BARIVEN
  • Over 770 tons of chicken from por Brf S.A. Rua Jorge and GDC Alimentos S.A. for CASA.
  • Over 660 tons of milk from Sancor Cooperativas Unidas for Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícolas (CASA)
  • 578 tons of chicken from Argentina for CASA
  • 563 tons of milk also from Argentina for CASA
  • 319 tons of auto parts from General Motors Overseas for its subsidiary in Venezuela
  • Over 307 tons of frozen chicken from Brazil, for CASA
  • Over 207 tons of unsalted butter from Uruguay, for CASA

22% of all imports come from the US
Data from the National Statistics Institute shows that imports from the US during the first four months of 2014 were 22% of all imports, for a total US$ 2.665 billion, a 26.36% drop from the same time the year before. More in Spanish: (El Universal,

Venezuela to import personal care products
The government will import personal care products facing serious shortages with an additional credit of US$ 124.46 million just approved by the National Assembly. A report by the Finance Committee of the Assembly shows that state-run Venezuelan Industrial Supplies (SUVINCA) will be in charge of purchasing toilet paper, toothpaste, toilet soap, deodorants, shampoo, and razors to be distributed nationwide through private and public networks. (El Universal,

Colombia disagrees with Venezuela's decision to close the border
Colombia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has voiced "disagreement" with Venezuela's decision to restrain access on the border in the evenings in order to fight against smuggling. Colombian Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín remarked it was a unilateral decision adopted by the government, and said "We believe closing the border is not the action needed to deter smuggling, which requires other internal moves." (El Universal,

1,000 tons of food seized at the Venezuela-Colombia border
The speaker of the Táchira state legislature, Omar Hernández, of the government party, claims 1,000 tons of foods were seized on the first night authorities restrained access on the border to avoid smuggling. He also says 408 clandestine border crossings have been found by the military. (El Universal,

Logistics & Transport

Venezuelans must go through fingerprint scanners to activate their credit cards for use abroad after being authorized by the CENCOEX, according to a new announcement by Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega. (Veneconomy,

Izarra says ALITALIA to resume operations in Venezuela on August 18
Tourism Minister Andrés Izarra says Italian airline ALITALIA will resume operations in Venezuela next August 18. (El Universal,

Oil & Energy

Venezuela reported to have tapped Lazard to sell CITGO Petroleum
Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA is working with investment bank Lazard Ltd to sell its North American unit, Citgo Petroleum Corp, according to people familiar with the situation. Petroleum Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Aug. 5 that the country will look to exit CITGO "as soon as we receive a proposal that serves our interests." He also said: "Assets abroad are virtually hostage to other jurisdictions and pay US taxes". A potential sale would be Venezuela's biggest pullback ever from the U.S. refining market. (Reuters,; and more in Spanish: Ultimas Noticias,; El Mundo,

Venezuela as a distressed seller. Venezuela is digging its way to distressed seller status. The country wants to offload CITGO, its American refinery and pipelines unit. It may be worth up to US$15 billion, money that’s sorely needed because of President Nicolás Maduro’s foolish economic policies. And the drop in value of heavy-oil assets like CITGO owns makes it a bad time to sell. Maduro’s administration is running out of cash. That’s the result of anti-business policies — including price controls and nationalization — that have depressed local production and increased reliance on imports. Access to dollars is rationed by a complex three-tier exchange rate that favors government projects over the private sector. It has led to shortages of food and medical supplies, which explains PDVSA’s timing in putting its United States division up for sale. In recent years demand has weakened and prices fallen for the kind of heavier oil refining that accounts for about three-quarters of CITGO’s output. American refineries now make more from processing the light crude from the shale boom. Processing heavy crude may pick up again, especially if the Keystone pipeline between Canada and the United States is approved. There are some valuable assets in PDVSA’s outfit in the United States – not least terminals and pipes. That should give Lazard, which has just been appointed as adviser, something to work with. Much of the proceeds from the sale, though, will probably have to cover the goods shortages. This means little, if any, of the cash is likely to be invested to reverse the decline in PDVSA’s oil output. With the company now supplying over 95% of the nation’s hard currency, more neglect will only worsen Venezuela’s plight, increasing the need to raise cash. Potential CITGO buyers may be in for a fire sale. (The New York Times,

PDVSA ponders bond swap to ease debt payment
State-run oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) must meet US$ 4.3 billion debt payments during the second half of 2014, and us considering the possibility of swapping bonds due this year. (El Universal,

PDVSA will begin a "popular consultation" over the gasoline price hike, announced multi-office holder Rafael Ramírez. The regime’s “popular consultations” usually mean telling captive audiences (PSUV meetings) of decisions already made for support by acclamation. (Veneconomy,

The new television station will broadcast three hours a day in its test period; from 7 A.M. an 8 A.M., from 12 to 1 P.M. and from 7 P.M. to 8 P.M., in this first stage. It can be tuned via TSD’s 2504 or on the Internet. (Veneconomy,


SIDOR workers call those who signed the collective bargaining agreement with the government "traitors" and call for their resignation. The 108 clause agreement on behalf of 14,500 workers at Venezuela's largest steel producer was reached by Deputy Minister of Labor, Nestor Ovalle and the SUTISS union’s Organization Secretary José Meléndez and three other workers Neither the SUTISS Chief José Luis Hernández, Claims Secretary Leonardo Azócar, nor Secretary General Julio López attended that meeting. Those who attended say what they “agreed” upon with authorities must be ratified in a workers’ assembly. (Veneconomy,; and more in Spanish: AVN,;

Economy & Finance

Value of gold reserves went down 24% in a year and a half
From December 2012 to June this year Venezuela's Central Bank was forced to adjust the value of its gold reserves from US$ 1.686 to US$ 1.290 per troy ounce. More in Spanish: (El Universal,

Family’s food basket was Bs.12,689.78 in July, up Bs.733.92 or 6.1%, according to the Venezuelan Teachers’ Federation’s Documentation and Social Analysis Center (CENDAS-FVM, in Spanish). The basket has increased 96.1% in a year (July 2013-July 2014). (Veneconomy,


Judge upholds dismissal of López evidence, he replies: "This is to be a firing squad, not a trial"
In the hearing held on Wednesday against opposition leader Leopoldo López, Judge Susana Barreiros dismissed his defense attorney's attempts to produce arguments and evidence attesting to the leader's innocence. The trial is to continue next August 28. Legal counsel Roberto Marrero has stressed Lopéz's trial cannot be deemed formal because defense attorneys have been prevented from presenting the arguments and evidence aimed at proving López's innocence. Upon hearing again that proof on behalf of his defense will be barred, López said: "This is to be a firing squad, not a trial".  (El Universal,; and more in Spanish:

SPECIAL INFOLATAM REPORT: ¿Where is the Maduro regime headed?
The next few months are vital to the continuation and consolidation of the Maduro regime, basically because he must take difficult decisions on the economy and close the gaps that are dividing the "chavista" movement. Everything indicates the center of the regime pivots between Maduro, National Assembly president Captain Diosdado Cabello, and Economic czar Rafael Ramírez - circumstantial allies who define the economic and political course of the government. Military affairs expert Rocío San Miguel, says that “pragmatism which joins Cabello and Maduro is much more profitable than voracity. Maduro has understood that oil and the Armed Forces are the source of power in Venezuela and is making an effort to understand and control that area, which I doubt he can achieve because the military base is very powerful”. Which are the next steps?:

  • Deepening political authoritarianism. Diosdado Cabello's position seems to have prevailed, against all dialogue with a divided opposition. Political analyst Alberto Barrera says "an opposition that is increasingly absent from major media and seems disoriented and divided...the great reverse is that unity is the agenda for Unity."  Possibilities for negotiation are closed. Cabello has said: "I have no time to meet with you, you will never rule this country again".

  • Snuffing out internal strife. The recent PSUV party meetings were used to snuff out internal criticism and dissent. As described by political analyst Luis Vicente León: "Maduro has no options but to advance leaving the dinosaurs aside. Maduro cannot give them space to contaminate his space, so he plays hard and furiously attacks anyone who challenges him...going toward toward the Pary Congress the message toward even the mildest dissidents is 'anyone who slips up loses' .

  • Coming devaluation. The economy needs urgent action not taken since Hugo Chavez died in March 2013. The most probable steps are a devaluation, deeper cuts into subsidies, and higher service charges.  Expert Annabella Abadi says: "Through a devaluation the government can get more bolivars with the same amount of dollars, which would reduce the deficit." 
More in Spanish: (Infolatam)

UNASUR’s 8th Summit has been postponed to October. Uruguay’s Foreign Affairs Ministry says the meeting scheduled to take place in Montevideo next August 21 and 22 is postponed due to conflicts in presidential agendas. Colombia's former President Ernesto Samper was to take over the Secretariat from Venezuela's Alí Rodríguez Araque, and Suriname was to transfer the pro tempore presidency to Uruguay. (Veneconomy,

One of Chávez’ daughters, María Gabriela, was appointed alternate ambassador to the United Nations (UN) on Wednesday. (Veneconomy,; 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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