Chavez: China may surpass US as No.1 trade partner

AP News
Posted: Dec 06, 2011 7:17 PM
Chavez: China may surpass US as No.1 trade partner

President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that China could surpass U.S. as Venezuela's No. 1 trade partner due to a strategic alliance between the two countries.

Chavez says trade between Venezuela and China has reached $20 billion this year, up from $600 million just over a decade ago. It is growing at a rate of $2 billion a year.

Trade between the United States and Venezuela has reached $33.5 billion so far this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Chavez has long been embroiled in tensions with Washington, and trade between the two countries is not expected to increase significantly until a long-standing diplomatic spat is resolved.

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas has been without an ambassador since July 2010. Chavez rejected the U.S. nominee for ambassador, Larry Palmer, accusing him of making disrespectful remarks about his government. That led Washington to revoke the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro told The Associated Press on Tuesday that diplomatic relations with the United States are frozen and he sees no possibility of improving them. He added that there's no immediate solution to the diplomatic dispute.

Chavez, an outspoken critic of U.S. President Barack Obama, has said Venezuela's growing ties with China are vital to his country's economic development.

"I believe it's possible ... not just in Venezuela, but also in Latin America," said Chavez, speaking at a news conference.

Last month, Chinese officials signed $6 billion in new loans to Venezuela aiming to boost the South American country's oil industry.

China has swiftly become Venezuela's biggest foreign lender in recent years.

The Asian giant had previously agreed to more than $32 billion in loans. Venezuela, in turn, is increasing oil shipments to China.

The infusion of Chinese cash has provided key support as Chavez looks to boost spending ahead of next year's presidential election.

Chavez has increased oil sales to China in the past several years while trying to diversify Venezuela's oil clientele. The United States remains the top buyer of the country's oil.


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