Venezuela's Maduro to visit China, Vietnam for finance deals

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 28, 2015 6:10 PM

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday said he will visit China and Vietnam to sign economic and financing deals, as the OPEC nation struggles to make ends meet at a time of low oil prices.

"I leave tomorrow for Vietnam and China to seal agreements for the economic and financial security of Venezuela, and to seek support in these difficult times," Maduro said during a televised broadcast.

He said he had received invitations from the presidents of China and Vietnam. He did not offer further details.

Venezuela has borrowed $50 billion from China through an oil-for-loans agreement created by late socialist leader Hugo Chavez in 2007, which has helped Chinese companies expand into Venezuelan markets amid chronic shortages of consumer goods.

Chinese financing has been crucial for Caracas since last year's oil market rout because Venezuela's borrowing costs on capital markets are the highest of any emerging market nation.

Vietnam's state oil and gas group PetroVietnam is a 40 percent partner with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA in the Junin 2 heavy oil project in the Orinoco belt. A senior PDVSA source told Reuters in March that PetroVietnam is considering pulling out of the project.

The head of Venezuela's opposition coalition, Jesus Torrealba, scoffed at Maduro's visit at a time when China's slowing economic growth was worrying world markets.

"Only he would think of going to China 'to seek help' the same week that China's financial collapse causes a global crisis," he tweeted. "Pure 'Madurismo'!"

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by David Gregorio)