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, January 16, 2015

January 16, 2015

International Trade


Cargo that has arrived at Puerto Cabello:

  • Over 1,000 tons of milk powder from Argentina for state agency Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícolas (CASA)
  • Over 1.200 tons of milk poder and Edam Cheese from Sociedad Anónima Pili and la Cooperativa Nacional de Productores for Industria General de Alimentos Nisa
  • Over 540 tons of infant formula from Nestlé México for Nestle Venezuela.



Oil & Energy


Maduro meets with Putin as oil-dependent economies sink, obtains investment promise for Oil belt

President Nicolas Maduro met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin at the ends of his tour aimed at trying to persuade big oil producers to cut output to stop the price rout. Venezuelan and Algerian officials had initiated talks over production levels between Russia and producers group OPEC, but officials in Moscow have said the country, in which around 40% of output is in private hands, would find it technically tough to cut. Russian energy minister Alexander Novak took a similar line on Wednesday, saying volatile prices were part of market patterns. "Many countries agree that any artificial action to change the situation on the market is impossible," he said. Moscow has continued to push crude output to new records, eventually overtaking Saudi Arabia as the top global producer in the last decade. Russia depends for half its budget revenue on energy, while Venezuela depends on oil for 96% of its hard currency revenue. President Maduro was received by Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergey Alexeevich Ryabkov for a meeting at the state residence of the Russian President outside Moscow. After meeting with Putin, Maduro reported they had agreed on expanding Russia's investments in the Orinoco oil belt. (Reuters:; AVN,; Veneconomy,; Reuters,; Bloomberg,; El Universal,,; and more in Spanish: AVN;; http:/


Qatar may fund energy, other projects in Venezuela

Qatar is considering funding projects in Venezuela, industry and diplomatic sources said, as President Nicolás Maduro lobbies fellow crude producers to help repair the damage done to its economy by plummeting oil revenues. Maduro said during a visit to Doha that he was firming up billions of dollars of financing from Qatari banks. Industry sources in Qatar said the country was still studying the possibility of investing in Venezuela's energy, real estate and tourism sectors.  "There's no money being allocated from Qatar yet. We are just in a study phase which can include building a refinery in Venezuela over two years," said a source close to the Qatari government. He declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. (Reuters,





Food industries operating here are producing at maximum capacity, within availability of raw material and supplies, says the Juvenal Arveláez, CEO of the Food Industries Chamber (CAVIDEA). He explains that in order to have regular and permanent supplies it is urgent to put into action a series of recommendations they have given authorities at all levels for years. (Veneconomy,


“There is food for the next three to four months,” says the Vice President for Food Security and Sovereignty Carlos Osorio, adding that food producing companies have no excuses to not comply with the distribution of basic products and threatened to take “the actions we have to take within the law” to guarantee such distribution. (Veneconomy,; El Universal,


Venezuela is importing 62% of its sugar consumption, says José Ricardo Álvarez, President of the Cane Growers Federations. He says the nation consumes 1.2 million tons per year and the government imported 745,000 tons last year because state agency AGROPATRIA did not delivery staples and there is a scarcity of spare parts for machinery. Out of 16 sugar mills operating locally, the 6 private ones account for 80% of domestic production. More in Spanish:(El Nacional;


Nine warehouses were seized and will be handed over to the Prosecutor General’s Office, for allegedly hoarding basic food staples. An arrest warrant was issued against the company’s owners, announced Vice President Jorge Arreaza on Wednesday. The Trade Ministry is to immediately distribute all these products to the public and private networks. (Veneconomy,; El Universal,



Economy & Finance


Moody's cuts Venezuela's rating, citing oil prices, increased likelihood of default

Moody's Investors Service has downgraded its debt rating for Venezuela, citing an increased likelihood of a default due to lower oil prices. Moody's cut the country's rating to Caa3 from Caa1, with the outlook stable. "In the event of a default, Moody's believes that the loss given default (LGD) is likely to be greater than 50%," the agency said in a statement. The ratings agency said it believes Venezuela is unlikely to implement forceful policy changes needed to curb macroeconomic distortions in the market. Venezuela faces key deadlines for billions of dollars in foreign debt in 2015 and is considered among one of the most vulnerable oil producers in the 12-member OPEC cartel. Most analysts estimate a fiscal break-even price of some US$ 110 a barrel. U.S. oil and Brent futures were trading in the mid-US$ 40s a barrel in early trading Tuesday. Moody's the long term issuer rating and senior unsecured notes of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to Caa3 from Caa1 and changed the outlook on the ratings to stable from negative. Moody's also downgraded CITGO Petroleum Corporation's Corporate Family Rating to B3 from B1; its Probability of Default rating to B3-PD from B1-PD; and its senior secured ratings on term loans, notes and industrial revenue bonds to B3 from B1. The rating on CITGO's senior secured revolving credit facility was downgraded to B2 from B1, reflecting a lower expected loss in case of default vis-a-vis other classes of debt in the company's capital structure. The rating outlook for CITGO was changed to stable from negative. CITGO is PDVSA's wholly-owned US-based refining subsidiary. (CNBC,; Latin American Herald Tribune,


World Bank estimates that Venezuela's GDP to drop 2% this year

 The World Bank now estimates Venezuela's economy will drop 2% this year, and says this country - along with Argentina - is  "currently fighting high inflation and slow growth". It estimates weaker growth could hurt other nations, particularly in the case of Venezuela and its PETROCARIBE program. The Bank reports 2014 GDP contracted by 3%, and says "recent drops in the price of oil have fueled investor doubt over the possibility that Venezuela can meet its foreign debt and have pressed US$ bonds up to 26%, the highest in the world." More in Spanish: (El Mundo,; Ultimas Noticias,


Maduro claims he obtained resources for Venezuela during his tour

President Nicolás Maduro claims he has obtained resources sufficient for Venezuela to maintain its economy afloat despite oil low prices. The government has not provided details on agreements reached during the 10 day tour, but Maduro has said they involve oil, industry, the food industry and infrastructure. More in Spanish: (El Universal;; El Mundo,; El Nacional;


If there is an "economic war", why there is shortage of state-made items?

Jorge Roig, president of the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEDECÁMARAS), dismissed allegations that lines outside retailers are simply "circumstantial," and claimed that they rather "have to do with the economic model. If you do the same in any other countries, there will be lines...As long as private enterprises continue to be persecuted, lines will persist," says Roig. Shortage of detergent and shampoo is 95%, he reports and wonders that if "there is an economic war, how can you explain shortage of state-made products? They must be worried if the enemy is within their ranks." (El Universal,


SICAD I FOREX auctions have been paralyzed for 3 months, since October 15, 2014. The National Foreign Trade Center (CENCOEX) has published no further calls since that date, after providing US$ 4.988 billion in 26 auctions last year. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,


Bondholders spurning Chavez’s Venezuela disciple

Nicolas Maduro and Rafael Correa are both socialist disciples of the late Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, but only one is managing to convince bondholders he’s got the ability to weather the collapse in oil prices. While Chavez’s handpicked successor Maduro is struggling to ward off a default, Ecuador counterpart Correa is getting a vote of confidence as he cuts spending and lines up more than US$ 7.5 billion in loans from China. Ecuador’s benchmark notes due 2024 have gained 1.7% in the past month, compared with a 17% plunge in similar-maturity Venezuelan securities.

Correa, who has long allied himself with Chavez’s socialist ambitions and declared three days of mourning to mark his death, is now deviating from policies that saw him use Ecuador’s oil wealth to finance record spending. (Bloomberg,



Politics and International Affairs


Capriles calls for united Venezuela opposition as crisis deepens

Henrique Capriles has called on Venezuela’s opposition to unite and said he would talk to other leaders who demanded the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro today amid a deepening economic crisis. Capriles, the opposition’s presidential candidate in 2013, asked other leaders to put their differences aside as shortages of basic goods deepened and prices soared.  We may not coincide in how to confront the government, but we are in agreement that we want the country to change and the government to change,” said Capriles, adding that any change must be done in accordance with the constitution. Protest plans would be announced shortly, he said. Opposition leaders Maria Corina Machado, Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez, who remains in jail, sent a joint statement earlier today saying “the time for change has come.” The three leaders said a new government was needed to pull Venezuela from the brink of collapse amid the “incompetencies and corruption” of the Maduro administration. Ruling party legislator Blanca Eekhout lambasted Capriles describing him as a "murderer," "liar," and a man "without ethics and moral values." The lawmaker also held Capriles accountable for the wave of violent street protests taking place in Venezuela in 2014. (Bloomberg,; El Universal,,;


Maduro claims that there is an ongoing "economic coup" in Venezuela

President Nicolás Maduro claims that those who wish for his overthrow are "sabotaging the economy" as "a part of plans they devise to try to irritate the people" and upset the nation's social and political fabric. Venezuela is awaiting his return and the announced "economic recovery" plan and a fiscal reform. He says "civic-military unity" will defeat attempts to destabilize the country. He says his government has impounded hundreds of tons of scarce basic products in a warehouse in the West of the nation, and asked that those responsible be jailed and their assets frozen. He added that he has "precisely instructed" his Cabinet to determine "which economic groups are behind this ambush". More in Spanish: (Infolatam,


FORBES: The impending collapse of Venezuela

The ratings agency Moody’s downgraded Venezuela to Caa3, one step above default. This comes as no surprise – markets have been pricing in the likelihood of default for some time now. Moody’s assessment assumes that Venezuela’s problem is mainly a balance of payments crisis caused by a rapidly falling oil price and inadequate foreign reserves. But the reality is different – and far worse. President Maduro returned empty-handed from his recent whirlwind global tour: China didn’t want to lend him any money, and oil producers didn’t want to cut production. However, he does seem to have swung some sort of financing deal with Qatar to soften the balance of payments problem. It is all too easy to see where this is headed: Pervasive shortages, extreme acceleration of inflation, and an obvious foreign exchange gap lead to capital flight and demonetization of the economy. The budget deficit deteriorates violently because of a steep decline in tax collection and increasing subsidy costs. The government attempts to stabilize by cutting subsidies and by a real depreciation. Real wages fall massively, and politics become unstable. It becomes clear that the government has lost. The balance of payments problem is merely the trigger for a massive fiscal, economic and ultimately political crisis that can only end in one way – the disorderly collapse of the regime. Whether this will take the form of a revolution, a military coup or simple chaos remains to be seen. But what we are witnessing is the destruction of Venezuela’s economy. And that destruction is not, fundamentally, because of external factors. It is a direct consequence of the economic policies pursued by the Chavez and Maduro regimes. What will the future hold for Venezuela? Many fear—and some welcome—a nondemocratic military intervention. The only path out of Venezuela’s economic mess is through consensus building that will lead to the economic growth and democratic civil society enjoyed by many of Venezuela’s neighbors. Default now seems inevitable and it may be accompanied by hyperinflation when the exchange rate controls fail. And it will be followed by a wrenching fiscal adjustment, administered by a new government probably under the aegis of the IMF. The deprivation that awaits the Venezuelan people is far, far worse than anything they are experiencing at the moment. (Forbes,


Night lines banned at shops in some Venezuela states; scarcity persists

Governors in three Venezuelan states have banned overnight queuing amid huge and sometimes rowdy lines around shops across the scarcity-plagued country.  Shortages of basic consumer products from milk to toilet paper have worsened since a lull in distribution over the Christmas and New Year holidays, prompting many to wait from the early hours on foot - or in hammocks - before shops open. The ubiquitous lines and frequent jostling for places when shop doors finally open are an embarrassment and irritation to Venezuelans across the political spectrum. There have also been scattered protests and arrests. (Reuters,; Veneconomy,


COPEI seeks early parliamentary elections

Roberto Enríquez, President of the COPEI Party, has asked for early parliamentary elections and says the new National Assembly should approve a constitutional amendment cutting the President's term of office short and ban indefinite reelection of presidents. More in Spanish: (El Universal,


Venezuela clashes with Chile over renewed talks

Venezuela's Foreign Ministry rejected statements by Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz who offered to negotiate a renewed political dialogue in Venezuela. Venezuela asked Muñoz to "abstain from giving opinions on internal affairs", and added that the Maduro regime "has not requested intervention publicly or diplomatically". The Chilean Foreign Ministry expressed surprise at the step, and replied that Muñoz's statements are within the March 2014 resolution of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) on Venezuela. More in Spanish: (El Universal,; El Nacional;


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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