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Latino Daily News

Saturday February 1, 2014

Venezuela, Uruguay Adjust Oil-For-Food Program

Venezuela, Uruguay Adjust Oil-For-Food Program

Photo: Venezuela and Uruguay

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The presidents of Venezuela and Uruguay adjusted their oil-for-food program to increase the amount of foodstuffs the OPEC nation imports from its regional ally, the government in Montevideo said Friday.

The accord was reached during a meeting in Havana between Uruguay’s Jose Mujica and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro on the sidelines of this week’s summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

The two presidents signed “an amendment to Article 4 of the (2005) Caracas Agreement on Energy Cooperation,” which “establishes two financing modalities for Uruguayan purchases of Venezuelan oil and facilitates exports of Uruguayan products to the Caribbean country,” Mujica’s office said in a statement.

In statements earlier this week, Venezuelan Vice President Rafael Ramirez said half of Uruguay’s annual bill for oil from Venezuela could be paid through the Bolivar Artigas Fund to bring his country “the food it needs.”

“Under those accords, we’re delivering 20,000 barrels of oil per day, the equivalent of 6 million barrels a year, to supply the La Teja refinery” in Montevideo, Ramirez added.

He said Venezuelan oil sales to Uruguay amount to $160 million annually and “with half of that bill,” which previously was going to be paid off through a long-term financing arrangement, Venezuela will have “the chance to bring food and other products directly from Uruguay in the short term.”

Two years ago, Uruguayan state oil company Ancap paid off a $860 million debt with Venezuela stemming from a previous oil-purchasing agreement.

Venezuela is one of Uruguay’s biggest oil suppliers, while Uruguay has become a key supplier of milk, chicken and other farm products to the OPEC member, which must import food to combat chronic spot shortages.

Uruguay’s foreign sales to Venezuela, its fifth-biggest export market, rose 11.1 percent last year to $450 million.

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