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, March 27, 2015

March 27, 2015


International Trade

 

Cargo that has arrived at Puerto Cabello

  • Over 4,074 tons of beef, milk and coffee from Eskimo S.A., Centrolac S.A., Alba Alimentos Nicaragua, Compañía Hondureña del Café, Productos Lácteos La Perfecta, Ind. Comercial San Martín y Nova Terra for state agencies Café Venezuela y Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícolas (CASA)
  • Over 1,134 tons of milk and coffee from Colombia for state agencies Café Venezuela y Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícolas (CASA)
  • Shampoo, diapers, wipes and sanitary from Procter & Gamble for its subsidiary in Venezuela.
More in Spanish: (Notitarde; http://produccion.notitarde.com/La-Costa/Llegaron-a-Puerto-Cabello-mas-de-6-mil-toneladas-de-alimentos-2379118/2015/03/25/503145)

 

Selling crude to "Los Imperialistas"

Washington and Caracas have been engaging in tit-for-tat insults and sanctions over recent weeks, but the United States and Venezuela have a commercial relationship that Nicolás Maduro cannot afford to sever. The United States remains Venezuela’s leading supplier of goods by a large margin and the largest export market for its oil. That has led Maduro’s critics to question the president’s current round of Yankee-baiting. “If this government is so anti-imperialist, why do they continue selling oil to the U.S.?” opposition leader and Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski. “They have a double discourse.” Venezuela continues to export a little less than 800,000 barrels of crude oil to the United States per day. Last year, the value of those oil exports totaled close to US$ 30.2 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Venezuela’s crude oil, which is heavy in sulfur, coke, and other minerals, can only be processed in a few refineries in the world, most of which are located in the United States. Meanwhile, U.S. exports to Venezuela came to US$ 11.3 billion in 2014 — more than a quarter of the country’s total imports. And Venezuelans import upwards of 70% of what they consume, including agricultural commodities, processed foods, and manufactured goods. So despite the rhetoric, analysts say he is looking for a distraction from his own country’s economic woes. Risa Grais-Targow, an analyst with Eurasia Group, notes that Maduro’s vociferous anti-American stance will have a short shelf-life unless he moves quickly to resolve the country’s problems. (Foreign Policy, http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/24/selling-crude-to-los-imeperialistas-maduro-washington/)

 

Government reports it quadrupled toilet paper imports last year

According to the annual report by the Trade Ministry, the CASA state agency imported and distributed 80 million rolls of toilet paper, 320.5% more than it did in 2013. Tooth paste imports rose more than 2000%. More in Spanish: (El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/)

 

 

Logistics & Transport

 

Failure to pay shipping lines to affect supplies to the country

Venezuela joined the list of high-risk destinations for major foreign shipping lines serving the country, because the government did not acknowledge the debt of over US$ 800 million it has with these companies and breached agreements established in the contracts. The situation compromises the arrival of imported goods and the supply of shelves. Shippers that have remained provide the service "with great sacrifice," but without notice can take action and suspend the freight. The debt with shipping corresponds to three-year delay in the return of more than 4,000 containers that PDVSA, CASA, AGROPATRIA and other state companies have in their possession. The source alleged that public companies have engaged in misappropriation of assets. "We found converted into offices for Chinese companies containers and when we follow up to determine their origin, we find, for example, that were given to CASA food". The nonpayment of commitment can you get to also generate legal action if unable to reach a commercial agreement, warned: "These international agreements have been established with freight carriers worldwide. The government cannot ignore them or pay what you think and when you want." He warned that part of local expenditures previously billed in bolivars be charged in dollars. "Now 98% of the costs for the landfall of a vessel is charged in dollars. Before it was 30%".  More in Spanish: (El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/)

 

Alitalia cuts down to one flight Caracas-Rome

Contrary to previous reports that it was ending all operations here, ALITALIA has clarified that it will operate a single Caracas-Rome flight. More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias, http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/noticias/actualidad/economia/alitalia-operara-un-solo-vuelo-en-la-ruta-caracas-.aspx#ixzz3VZmGjnow)

 

 

Oil & Energy

 

Venezuela has cut oil exports to Cuba and the Caribbean in half

According to a report by Barclays, Venezuela has cut subsidized oil dispatches to Cuba and PETROCARIBE member countries by half, down to around 200,000 BPD from 400,000 BPD in 2012. Due to these cuts, Barclays has cut its FOREX deficit for Venezuela to US$ 22.6 billion, down from US$ 30 billion it has predicted for 2015. "Cuba has received around 55,000 BPD since September, almost half of what it got in 2012", according to the report. Dispatches to the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, which comprise around half of the program, have dropped 56% and 74% respectively, from 2012. These cuts bring down crude shipments to allies to only 80,000 BPD that are not paid for in cash, and this improves the nation's finances by around US$ 7.5 billion, says the report, which adds: "We estimate the government can get financing for US$ 17.5 billion, which means their asset holdings will have to drop by some US$ 6.3 billion to close the gap". More in Spanish: (El Nuevo Herald, http://www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/mundo/america-latina/venezuela-es/article16310159.html)

 

Venezuela again seeks to challenge arbitrators in CONOCO dispute

Venezuela is seeking to challenge two arbitrators on a World Bank tribunal hearing in a dispute with U.S. oil giant ConocoPhillips, less than a year after the tribunal rejected a similar request regarding the same arbitrators. The Oil Ministry says it has asked the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to remove arbitrators Kenneth Keith and Yves Fortier from the three-person panel. Both had shown "a marked attitude against the Republic," the ministry said in a statement. (Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/26/venezuela-arbitration-conocophillips-idUSL2N0WS2IV20150326)

 

PETROVIETNAM mulls leaving Venezuela joint venture

Vietnam's state oil and gas group PETROVIETNAM is considering selling its 40% stake in a joint venture with Venezuelan counterpart Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), according to two sources close to the exploration project PVN's investment in the Junin 2 venture in Venezuela's heavy-crude Orinoco belt had been initially cost US$ 1.8 billion over five years, making it one of Vietnam's biggest overseas investment projects. But a senior source in PDVSA said the Vietnamese company - long rumored to be unhappy over Venezuela's high inflation and currency controls - was now considering a definitive pullout. Another source close to the PETROMACAREO project confirmed that and also said a Colombian company was interested in buying PETROVIETNAM's stake. That source did not name the Colombian company. The exit of PETROVIETNAM would be a further disappointment for Maduro's government after Malaysian oil company PETRONAS also decided to exit the flagship PETROCARABOBO project in the Orinoco belt in 2013, due to problems in its dealings with Venezuelan authorities and PDVSA. (Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/25/venezuela-petrovietnam-idUSL2N0WR12C20150325)

 

 

Commodities

 

Industrial inventories at a critical level

Eduardo Garmendia, president of CONINDUSTRIA, the nation's industry federation, reports inventories are at a "critical" level in the entire industrial area, "including pharmaceuticals and food".  More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias, http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/noticias/actualidad/economia/conindustria-el-volumen-de-inventarios-es-critico-.aspx#ixzz3VZn1qUn1; El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/economia/gremios/conindustria--el-volumen-de-inventarios-es-critico.aspx)

 

Cattle ranchers believe they can increase their production by 7%, between May and October, to supply up to 45% of the domestic demand, says FEDENAGA’s Chief Carlos Albornoz. They claim they could increase the numbers if they are guaranteed profitability. Albornoz emphasized the lack of trust and stimuli to the producer are the main obstacles for them to produce. (Veneconomy, http://www.veneconomy.com/site/index.asp?ids=44&idt=43281&idc=3)

 

 

Economy & Finance

 

Economy- outlook worsens   

Venezuela’s economy – already hammered by widespread shortages, declining activity and spiraling inflation – is set to get even worse, experts say. And even if the country's president, Nicolas Maduro, takes the correct measures to fix the falling economy, they will fail because of the government’s lack of credibility, they say. “2015 and 2016 will go down as the worst years in Venezuela's modern history,” says Moisés Naim, a distinguished fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former Venezuelan minister of trade and industry in the early 1990s. "Hunger, crime, strife and widespread human suffering will reach levels not seen before and will disproportionately affect the poorest and most vulnerable groups of society -- children, women, the elderly and the sick.” "Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “bottom” for nations’ economies," argues Gerver Torres, Latin America Specialist at Gallup Consulting and former Minister President of Venezuela’s Investment Fund. “Things can always get worse, and I expect that result in Venezuela,” he says. (Latinvex, http://www.latinvex.com/app/article.aspx?id=1986)

 

Venezuela faces a US$23.7 billion dollar déficit this year and US$15.2 billion in 2016 before counting potentials (…) such as pre-payment of the PETROCARIBE’s debt, securitization of some of the gold reserves and up to US$ 10 billion of Chinese financing, said Credit Suisse on Latin America’s economic outlook. (Veneconomy, http://www.veneconomy.com/site/index.asp?ids=44&idt=43275&idc=2; and more in Spanish: (El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/economia/banca/credit-suisse--venezuela-enfrenta-un-deficit-de-di.aspx#ixzz3VU7VXXcF)

 

Venezuelan seeks ECLAC support economic plans

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the UN's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) met here with Venezuelan officials. After the meeting President Nicolás Maduro said:  "I have asked ECLAC and their executive secretary to support us with all they have so that can Venezuela can revive economic growth." More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias, http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/noticias/actualidad/economia/cepal-dara-apoyo-a-venezuela-para-consolidar-su-ec.aspx#ixzz3VZmlAjGb; El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/economia/internacional/equipo-de-la-cepal-visitara-al-pais-para-brindar-r.aspx; El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150327/cepal-dara-apoyo-al-equipo-economico-del-gobierno; AVN; http://www.avn.info.ve/contenido/cepal-apoyar%C3%A1-venezuela-consolidaci%C3%B3n-econom%C3%ADa-productiva)

 

 

Politics and International Affairs

 

Maduro's popularity inches up to 25%

President Nicolas Maduro's popularity inched up to 25% percent in March, according to leading local pollster DATANALISIS, after the United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials. The measures from Washington provided an unlikely helping hand to the socialist leader at one of the worst moments for the ruling "chavismo" movement. "In the last four surveys, Maduro's popularity has been stable, it hasn't fallen further," DATANALISIS added. The firm also said the scarcity index, a measure of shortages of staple goods, hit 57% in Caracas this month. (Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/24/us-venezuela-maduro-idUSKBN0MK2B420150324)

 

Prosecutor General says social media must be regulated, disqualifies Amnesty International

Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz has said social media must be regulated to avoid negative rumors. She also called a recent report on human rights violations here unethical and slanted. More in Spanish: El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/)

 

...and says she is investigating Venezuelan accounts abroad

Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz announced she is asking - through the Foreign Ministry - for information on Venezuelans holding accounts in foreign banks. More in Spanish: (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150325/fiscalia-investiga-cuentas-de-venezolanos-en-el-exterior; El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/)

 

Regime claims to have collected three million anti-Obama signatures, foes denounce coercion

The government claims it has collected over three million signatures asking U.S. President Barack Obama to repeal measures declaring this country a security threat. Public squares around the nation have become centers for a nationalist petition drive by the ruling Socialist Party. PROVEA, a local NGO, has already received several complaints about public employees being required to sign, backed by the threat of being sanctioned in case they refuse to do so. These are signs that the campaign being carried out by the Venezuelan government throughout the public media system is not having the desired effect. A significant percentage of Venezuelans does not buy the story that the "gringos" will be invading the country any time soon. In a communiqué, Venezuelan opposition umbrella group Unified Democratic Panel (MUD) rejected the fact that the Venezuelan government, through its embassies and consular offices, is inviting Venezuelan residents abroad to sign the petition. Servando Carbone, national coordinator for Unete, adds that "National Guard, Army and Navy commandos ordered batallions to sign and are pressuring workers at the Ministry of Defense to sign". Prisoners have also been bused to sign. (Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/25/us-venezuela-usa-idUSKBN0ML2GX20150325; Latin American Herald Tribune, http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2380990&CategoryId=10717; El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150325/mud-rejects-call-for-venezuelans-abroad-to-sign-letter-against-us-decr; and more in Spanish: El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/)

 

Ceballos remains incarcerated despite court order

Judge Shirley Páez ordered the release of former San Cristóbal’s Mayor Daniel Ceballos after he served the 12 month sentence imposed by the Venezuelan Supreme Court for failing to comply with one of its rulings. However, Ceballos was not released from prison as he is on trial in another court on charges of rebellion. (Veneconomy, http://www.veneconomy.com/site/index.asp?ids=44&idt=43282&idc=1)

 

Colombian FM expects Red Cross to visit political prisoners in Venezuela

Colombian Foreign Minister María Angela Holguín says Member States of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) expect the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to be allowed to visit political prisoners in Venezuela. "We expect the ICRC (...) to visit (political) prisoners in Venezuela," Holguín stressed without specifying any date, AFP quoted. (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150326/colombian-fm-expects-red-cross-to-visit-political-prisoners-in-venezue)

 

Costa Rica has removed Ambassador to Venezuela

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís has removed his Ambassador to Venezuela Federico Picado, after the diplomat expressed opinions about the internal political affairs of this nation. Solís had said his government did not endorse Picado's statements in support of the government of President Maduro. (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150326/costa-rica-removes-ambassador-to-venezuela)

 

Spain rules out possibility that González harms relations with Venezuela

The Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation and for Ibero-America, Jesús Gracia, ruled out the possibility that the initiative of former Spanish president Felipe González to defend Venezuelan detained opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma might harm Spain's relations with Venezuela. Gracia stressed that González made clear from the beginning that his initiative of defending Venezuelan dissenters was private, with a goal to promote understanding in Venezuela, and therefore bilateral relations would not be damaged in any way, Efe reported. (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150326/spain-rules-out-possibility-that-gonzalez-harms-relations-with-venezue)

 

Russian FM: "Venezuelans must solve problems without foreign meddling"

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Venezuela is able to resolve its problems without foreign meddling: "We are convinced that Venezuelans must solve their problems on their own, without foreign interventions, sanctions or threats". (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150325/russian-fm-venezuelans-must-solve-problems-without-foreign-meddling)

 

 
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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