Thu, May 15, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Venezuela to barter oil for food, goods with Portugal

AGENCIES , CARACAS

Venezuela announced plans on Tuesday to ship oil to Portugal in exchange for food products and other goods that have been running short in the South American country.

Venezuela, Latin America’s largest oil producer, will send as many as 30,000 barrels of crude a day to Portugal by later this year, President Hugo Chavez told reporters after meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates.

That amount equals less than 1 percent of Venezuela’s average daily oil output last year, but is still worth US$1 billion at today’s prices, Chavez said. He said he hoped Portugal would repay the full amount “with technology, food, and other goods and services” rather than cash.

Venezuela has suffered sporadic food shortages in recent years, with basic products including milk, sugar and eggs sometimes hard to find. Given those shortages, Venezuela agreed to provide crude to GALP Energia, Portugal’s state-controlled energy company, in exchange for soy oil, pasta and 5,000 tonnes) of powdered milk from three different Portuguese producers.

The deal is one of 14 accords signed on Tuesday by the two nations’ leaders. Others call for Venezuela and Portugal to work together to exploit natural gas reserves off Venezuela’s coast and to certify oil deposits in Venezuela’s eastern Orinoco River basin.

Meanwhile, Germany’s criticism of Chavez threatens bilateral relations, Caracas said on Tuesday, after the president called German Chancellor Angela Merkel a political descendant of Adolf Hitler.

The Foreign Ministry struck out at comments made by Merkel last week in which she said Chavez, an outspoken critic of capitalism, did not speak for Latin America.

“Her statements do not only disturb bilateral relations, but also cast doubts on the intention of the German government to strengthen friendly ties with all Latin America and Caribbean countries,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry on Tuesday accused Germany of “meddling” and said Venezuela was not a “factor of disturbance” in Latin America, Europe or the world.

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