Fri, Sep 14, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Maduro leaves for China, promises ‘big achievements’

GREASING THE WHEELS:China has long financed Caracas through oil-for-loan agreements and a consultant said the countries would clinch a similar loan deal for US$5 billion

Reuters, CARACAS

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is traveling to China to discuss economic agreements as the crisis-struck OPEC nation seeks to convince its key Asian financier to disburse fresh loans.

“I am going with great expectations and we will see each other again in a few days with big achievements,” Maduro said on Wednesday in an official broadcast from the airport, without providing details.

The Venezuelan Ministry of Information did not respond to a request for comment.

Maduro’s three-day visit was at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a brief statement carried by Xinhua news agency, giving no other details.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez was already in China and on Wednesday met with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan (王岐山), the foreign ministry said in a brief statement late on Wednesday.

The two countries have long had friendly ties and cooperation has been “steadily progressing” in all fields, the ministry cited Wang as telling Rodriguez.

On Tuesday, Rodriguez met with China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) president Zhang Jianhua (章建華) to discuss cooperation, a senior oil source briefed with the matter said, without giving further details.

A CNPC spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CNPC is a major investor in oil and gas exploration in Venezuela and also a top lifter of Venezuelan oil under the government-to-government loans-for-oil deals.

Over a decade, China plowed more than US$50 billion into Venezuela through oil-for-loan agreements that helped Beijing secure energy supplies for its fast-growing economy while bolstering an anti-Washington ally in Latin America.

However, the flow of cash halted nearly three years ago, when Venezuela asked for a change of payment terms amid falling oil prices and declining crude oil output that pushed its state-led economy into a hyperinflationary collapse.

The Venezuelan Ministry of Finance in July said that it would receive US$250 million from the China Development Bank to boost oil production, but offered no details.

Venezuela previously accepted a US$5 billion loan from China for its oil sector, but has yet to receive the entire amount.

Local consultant Asdrubal Oliveros, who tracks Chinese loans closely, on Wednesday said that Venezuela was close to clinching a fresh loan of US$5 billion to finance oil projects.

Beijing was waiting for Maduro to announce a series of economic measures, including a steep devaluation and more flexible currency controls, before extending fresh funds, Oliveros said.

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