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 23, 2015

January 23, 2015


International Trade

 

Cargo that has arrived at Puerto Cabello:

  • Over 700 tons of soya oil in 33 containers from Brazil and the Dominican Republic
  • Over 265 tons of spaghetti in 10 containers from the Dominican Republic, for state agency CASA
  • Over 218 tons of soybean oil from Fabril for state agency Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícolas (Casa)
  • Over 203 tons of powdered milk from Sucesores de Alfredo Williner for Inquivosa Láctea S.A.Over 33,000 tons of corn from Argentina for state agency CASA
  • Over 121 tons of whisky from Diageo Brands BV for Corporación Venezolana de Comercio Exterior (CORPOVEX)
  • Over 71 tons of electric material from the USA for state agency CORPOELEC
  • Spare parts for busses from Barcelona, Spain
  • 25 vans carrying spare parts for Chrysler Venezuela
  • 3 containers carrying paper waste for Manufacturas de Papel (MANPA)
  • 2 containers of automobile parts for General Motors
  • 2 containers of chrome flour for Venezolana del Vidrio. 
  • 6 vans carrying scrap metal for Pirelli de Venezuela. 
More in Spanish: (Notitarde; http://www.notitarde.com/La-Costa/Llegaron-mas-de-121-toneladas-de-whisky-al-puerto-carabobeno-2329797/2015/01/21/486238/; http://www.notitarde.com/La-Costa/Mas-de-33-mil-toneladas-de-maiz-llegaron-para-la-estatal-Casa-2329062/2015/01/20/486052/; El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/)

 

A ship bearing 41 containers of food arrived in Margarita island

A press release from the Governor of Nueva Esparta State, General Carlos Mata, reports six of the containers were carrying oil, 5 carry beef, two carry wheat flour; 3, powdered milk; 2, margarine; 5, pasta; 4, pork; 8, liquid milk and 6 carrying chicken, all of which are to be distributed by state agencies MERCAL and PDVAL. More in Spanish: (AVN; http://www.avn.info.ve/contenido/barco-41-contenedores-alimentos-llegó-nueva-esparta; El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/economia/politicas-publicas/gobierno-anuncia-que-llega-barco-con-alimentos-a-n.aspx; El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/)

 

 

Oil & Energy

 

Venezuela cancels CITGO auction, seeks to raise US$ 2.5 billion, said to offer 67% premium on loan funding

Venezuela has taken U.S. refining unit CITGO Petroleum Corp off the auction block and it will now seek to raise US$ 2.5 billion in the debt market to provide funding for the cash-strapped country, according to a source familiar with the matter said. The auction was canceled on the advice of CITGO's lawyers after they told CITGO that if the company wished to raise funds in the debt market, it should remove itself from the auction block, the source added. Deutsche Bank has announced plans for a US$ 1.5 billion bond to be issued by CITGO Holdings, with details expected to emerge next week. The German bank has also scheduled bank meetings in New York to launch a US$1 billion senior secured first lien five-year term loan B, according to IFR. CITGO is offering interest that is 67%t above market rates, showing how expensive it’s become for riskier energy companies to borrow after oil prices tumbled. (Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-22/citgo-said-to-offer-67-premium-on-loan-funding-pdvsa-dividend.html; http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/21/citgo-pete-issue-idUSL1N0V004S20150121)

 

Maduro invited the country to discuss fair prices of gasoline

President Nicolas Maduro has invited all sectors of the country to discuss a fair and balanced prices scheme of gasoline sold in the country, saying the price of Venezuelan gasoline is the lowest in the international market and the income it generates does not cover the smallest production process. "I want to express the need to go to a system of balanced prices, fair prices, where we can charge people the gasoline sold fairly in the domestic market with a new price rate," he said in his annual report to the nation from the National Parliament, in Caracas. He reported that Vice President, Jorge Arreaza will attend the National Assembly (AN) to lead the national debate and make proposals aimed at fixing a fair price of gasoline. "I think it is a necessity. We want to take that step. I open the debate in the National Assembly," he said. (AVN, http://www.avn.info.ve/contenido/maduro-invited-country-discuss-fair-prices-gasoline; Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-22/oil-crash-spurs-venezuela-reversal-on-18-year-fuel-freeze.html)

 

....admitted the price of oil will not return to US$ 100

President Maduro also said that the price of crude oil would not return to US$ 100 per barrel. "Oil will not go back to $100 ... We have less foreign currency ... But God will provide," he said in the speech, promising that all Venezuela's budget commitments would be honored in 2015 despite the nation's plunging revenues. (Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/22/venezuela-economy-oil-idUSC2N0T700K20150122)

 

.....and accused the U.S. of wielding oil as weapon to ‘destroy’ nation

The U.S. wants to use shale oil as a geopolitical weapon to destroy Venezuela by flooding the market with supply and driving prices down, according to President Nicolás Maduro. Hydraulic fracturing, the method used to remove shale oil trapped in rock, is “destructive,” President Nicolas Maduro said during his national address. Venezuela’s economy shrank 2.8% last year as crude slumped almost 50% amid the fastest pace of U.S. production in more than three decades while the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries resisted calls to cut output. “The U.S. wants to use oil as a geopolitical weapon,” Maduro said during his speech: “They’re trying to destroy Venezuela.(Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-22/venezuela-sees-u-s-wielding-oil-as-weapon-to-destroy-nation.html)

 

The OPEC insisted it would keep its current production unchanged at the Economic World Forum in Davos. Its Secretary General Abdalla Salem El Badri explained they were after an intermediate Price range but emphasized they do not set prices. He said that if the cartel were to cut oil production now, they would have to do it again and again. That is why they decided to keep it unchanged and see how the market reacted, he said. (Veneconomy, http://www.veneconomy.com/site/index.asp?ids=44&idt=42478&idc=4)

 

 

Commodities

 

Inventories in the packing industry can only hold out through April

José Manuel González, President of the Packing Industry Association says FOREX allocations to their industry has been almost paralyzed since November and warns that the industry has not had access to FOREX and  their raw material inventories can only hold out until April. More in Spanish: (El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/)

 

20 candy and chocolate manufacturers had to close last year, with some migrating to Colombia, due to the shortages of sugar in Venezuela. In addition, over 5,000 workers have been laid off in the last few months, according to Pedro Malaver, head of the National Candy Makers Association (ANFAC). He pointed out the government manages 60% of the sugar industry but produces only 20% of the sugar the country consumes. (Veneconomy, http://www.veneconomy.com/site/index.asp?ids=44&idt=42486&idc=3)

 

China's CITIC Group says it may create construction materials plant in Venezuela

Liang Chuanxin, President of China's Citic Construction Group, says they are interested in setting up a US$ 40 million cement and construction materials plant in Venezuela. More in Spanish: (AVN; http://www.avn.info.ve/contenido/empresa-china-citic-group-interesada-instalar-fábrica-cemento-y-materiales-para-construcci; Ultimas Noticias, http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/noticias/actualidad/economia/empresa-china-quiere-instalar-en-el-pais-fabrica-p.aspx)

 
 

Economy & Finance

 

IMF: Venezuelan economy to drop 7% in 2015

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has downgraded its growth estimates for the Venezuelan economy, as it predicted it would shrink by 7% in 2015. Back in October 2014, the IMF had said the Venezuelan economy was expected to decline by 1%. The institution estimates that every USD 10 decline in oil prices worsens Venezuela's trade balance by 3.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). IMF Western Hemisphere Director, Alejandro Werner, predicted that consumption in Venezuela "will suffer an important contraction and shortages will worsen over current levels." (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/150121/imf-venezuelan-economy-to-drop-7-in-2015)

 

Summary of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's Annual Report

During his speech before the Parliament on Wednesday, President Nicolás Maduro presented his Annual Report. The following are some of the most important policy decisions announced:

- A 15% increase of the minimum wage as of February 1.

- Incorporation of a health bonus for pensioners. The amount of the bonus was not unveiled.

- A new three tiered FOREX system.

- Approval of funds to raise to 200,000 the number of scholarships for secondary education.

- A census scheduled for January 31-February 1.

- A debate on gasoline, considering "the price of gasoline" needs to be revised.

- An immediate and in depth inspection of staple distribution and trade systems.


 

Maduro promises private currency market to fix dollar drought

Venezuela will create its fifth parallel currency market in 12 years to boost U.S. dollar supplies as plunging oil revenue worsens food and medicine shortages and pushes the nation deeper into recession. The new market will allow private companies and individuals to trade the greenback through brokerages, President Nicolas Maduro told Congress. The government will continue importing essential products at the primary exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars a dollar, while combining two other existing currency auctions into one, he said. “This is the decision I have taken: a system of three markets,” he told lawmakers. “This exchange system is a transitory system to attend the country’s development needs” while oil prices stabilize, he said. Hernan Yellati, Miami-based head of research at brokerage BancTrust commented: “The set of reforms announced in the annual report were incomplete and insufficient to disentangle accumulated distortions over 15 years.” Siobhan Morden, head of Latin America strategy at Jefferies LLC, says:  If these measures were introduced a year ago then the market reaction would have been euphoric... The measures may not prove sufficient considering the extent of the oil shock while commitment is still uncertain for an extremely weak government.” (Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-22/venezuela-vows-new-private-currency-market-to-fix-dollar-drought.html; http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-22/maduro-blames-criminal-gangs-for-venezuela-s-economic-woes.html; http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-22/venezuela-vows-new-private-currency-market-to-fix-dollar-drought.html; Veneconomy, http://www.veneconomy.com/site/index.asp?ids=44&idt=42492&idc=2; El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/150122/three-forex-systems-to-operate-in-venezuela-in-2015)

 

Maduro trusts "God will provide" resources to overcome the economic crisis

In his address to the National Assembly, President Nicolás Maduro said that "Venezuelan oil has suffered a serious collapse. It closed today at US$ 38 per barrel. This means less FOREX...but we will not lack resources. Oil will never be back up to US$ 100 per barrel, but God will provide. We will never lack".  Maduro said nothing about the international financial aid he was to have obtained during his tour to Russia, China and Arab nations, a tour that ended in an obvious failure. More in Spanish: (ABC Madrid, http://www.abc.es/internacional/20150122/abci-venezuela-maduro-confia-dios-proveera-recursos-crisis-201501221934.html)

 

EURASIA Group: Economic adjustments will have limited impact

Overall, the measures announced yesterday are unlikely to meaningfully reduce economic distortions, which in turn will ensure that social dynamics remain tense, and that the risk of some sort of social crisis will remain high. In addition, given the low probability of a gasoline price hike, the government will continue to face significant liquidity constraints which point to a potential credit event in the fourth quarter of the year unless oil prices meaningfully recover. (Eurasia Group, grais-targow@eurasiagroup.net)

 

Bonds slip, foes gripe at Venezuela's economic changes

Venezuelan bond prices edged down on Thursday while opponents savaged economic changes by President Nicolas Maduro that included a seeming devaluation of the currency and an imminent rise in domestic gasoline prices. Under pressure over recession, product shortages and plunging oil revenues, Maduro has opted to keep a complex three-tier currency control system, though bands have been shifted to ensure more dollars are sold at higher levels. In a speech on Wednesday, he also bit the bullet on the sensitive subject of fuel prices, currently the world's cheapest, saying a rise was inevitable this year. But without price specifics on either, or any major structural changes to the socialist model, critics said Maduro had not done enough to rescue a shrinking economy and combat shortages plaguing Venezuela's 30 million people. (Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/22/us-venezuela-economy-idUSKBN0KV1QP20150122)

 

Maduro calls for inspection of wholesalers

President Nicolás Maduro also announced inspections of the distribution and commercialization system for basic products. He said Miguel Pérez Abad, the president of the pro government Federation of Small and Medium Industries (FEDEINDUSTRIA), will coordinate a group of consultants and economists to work with authorities. Perez Abad says the new exchange system will bring in US$ 15 billion in 2015 through those who hold foreign currency "and want to invest in Venezuela... who will surely obtain very convenient yields". (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/150121/maduro-launches-inspections-of-wholesale-distributors; and more in Spanish: El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/150123/preven-que-ingresen-al-pais-15000-millones-en-2015; El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/economia/gremios/fedeindustria-preve-llegada-de--15-000-millones-co.aspx; El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/)

 

Venezuela should be rich, but its government has destroyed its economy

The problem with socialism isn't that you eventually run out of other people's money. It's that you eventually run out of oil money. Well, at least in Venezuela. It doesn't have an economy, you see, so much as a poorly run oil exporting business that isn't enough to subsidize everything else. And that was true even when oil was more than US$ 100 a barrel. So now that it's under US $50 a barrel, Venezuela's government has gone from defaulting on its own people, as former minister Ricardo Hausmann put it, in the form of rampant inflation and shortages, to really doing so, to the point that it might have to start defaulting on its debt, too. Venezuela should be rich. But it isn't, and it's getting even poorer now, because of economic mismanagement on a world-historical scale. The problem is simple: Venezuela's government thinks it can have an economy by just pretending it does. That it can print as much money as it wants without stoking inflation by just saying it won't. And that it can end shortages just by kicking people out of line. It's a triumph of magical thinking that's not much of one when it turns grocery-shopping into a days-long ordeal that may or may not actually turn up things like food or toilet paper. So it turns out Lenin wasn't just right that the best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency. It's also the best way, as Venezuela can tell you, to destroy the socialist one. (The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/01/21/venezuela-should-be-rich-but-its-government-has-destroyed-its-economy/)

 

 

Politics and International Affairs

 

Capriles: calls Maduro's announcements "devaluation in disguise"

Following the announcements made by President Nicolás Maduro during his Annual Report, opposition leader and Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles called the announcements ”devaluation in disguise" by combining the SICAD 1 and SICAD 2 exchange rates. He said: "Nothing was announced. What Nicolás did was hit the people with another devaluation...it was a devaluation in disguise".  Capriles added that the message was not a serious contribution because a "solution involves understanding and correcting mistakes, not deceiving oneself and repeating the same old failed expressions, the same old empty phrases." He added: "Will there be no lines (to buy foodstuffs, etc.) in markets tomorrow? After hours of meaningless talk, did they (the government) propose solutions to overcome food and medicine shortage?" Opposition legislator Henry Ramos Allup said, "when the speech ended, I still had the same expectations I had before listening to Maduro's message". He said Venezuela was expecting economic moves intended to solve issues such as long lines to buy staples, scarcity, and high prices. Instead, Maduro uttered "the same discourse: accusation, explanation, defense (...). I was stunned, like the rest of Venezuelans". DATANÁLISIS President Luis Vicente León said "the president is sticking to the classic strategy of blaming others to avoid government responsibility", and added that the recent announcement is really an implicit devaluation. (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150122/capriles-maduros-announcements-fail-to-solve-venezuelan-crisis; http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150122/opposition-deputy-terms-insufficient-venezuelan-presidents-announcemen; and more in Spanish: El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/economia/politicas-publicas/luis-vicente-leon--medidas-representan-una-devalua.aspx#ixzz3Pdkrs5oU; http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/noticias/actualidad/economia/capriles-asegura-que-anuncios-de-maduro-implican-u.aspx#ixzz3PdmkEl3I)

 

Single exchange rate was not implemented due to fear of additional inflation

Planning Minister Ricardo Menéndez says the new FOREX system seeks a "free fluctuation" of the rate of exchange by eliminating SICAD 2 and making a third market legal in order to have free fluctuation "through public and private stock exchanges". He said the possibility of a single exchange rate was discarded for fear of "inflationary processes". More in Spanish: (El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/economia/politicas-publicas/menendez--se-descarto-unificacion-cambiaria-por-ri.aspx#ixzz3PdkTywmB)

 

Cabello says the country does not need a capitalist system

Captain Diosdado Cabello, head of the National Assembly and Vice President of the government's Socialist Party (PSUV) said "this who expected an economic "package" fell to the ground" and added that the country does not need a capitalist model to progress, all to the contrary, of needs a "socialist model". More in Spanish: (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150123/cabello-quienes-esperaban-un-paquetazo-rodaron)

 

Maduro attends Evo Morales's inauguration

President Nicolas Maduro has arrived in Bolivia to attend the inauguration of his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales. Upon arrival, he said he came to Bolivia to "accompany the dreams of independence, equality, freedom, justice but mostly union of peoples." (AVN, http://www.avn.info.ve/contenido/maduro-attends-evo-morales039s-inauguration)

 

Another Voluntad Popular mayor charged with inciting violence

Delson Guarate, a mayor in Aragua state, has been formally charged with incitement, “for his alleged involvement with violent events that occurred between February 12 and the end of June in Aragua state.” (Veneconomy, http://www.veneconomy.com/site/index.asp?ids=44&idt=42476&idc=1)

 

 
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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