Caracas, Venezuela (VA) – Venezuela and China drafted a 10-year plan for strategic cooperation yesterday as part of the China-Venezuela High-Level Joint Commission that is meeting in Caracas through Wednesday.
The plan aims to advance development in both nations by deepening partnerships in diverse sectors, including manufacturing, infrastructure, telecommunications, and oil.
“We are going to address the issue of ports and airports throughout the country as well as the question of electric infrastructure,” stated Venezuelan Vice-President for Planning Ricardo Menendez.
“We are going to be working on the topic of telecommunications,” he added, outlining plans for technological exchange in diverse areas, including providing students with digital tablets, building related factories, and constructing undersea cables to connect Venezuela with Caribbean nations.
Also on the agenda are plans to expand joint oil projects as well as initiatives to kickstart Venezuela’s domestic production, particularly in the areas of cement, iron, aluminum, and paper.
Over the last decade, Venezuela under Chavez and Maduro has sought to strategically reorient its economy towards China, signing over 400 cooperation agreements encompassing a wide array of sectors, including energy, education, health, trade, housing, agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, sports, research, and cultural exchange.
Since 2007, China has provided Venezuela with $45 billion in loans reportedly to finance development. In return, Venezuela exports over 600,000 barrels of oil a day to the rising economic giant.
Relations between Venezuela and China were elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership last July during a special visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Venezuela Signs New Deals with Iran
Venezuela signed a new round of agreements with Iran on Friday as part of an effort to broaden cooperation in economic, financial, scientific, and technological sectors.
“Iran and Venezuela are an example of an alliance between two brother nations. These are six agreements of major importance for the economy of our countries,” declared Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
As part of the agreements, Iran will provide Venezuela with a $500 million loan to finance joint projects as well as secure strategic goods Caracas has deemed “necessary for the Venezuelan people”, such as drugs and surgical equipment. There is also a plan to create a joint research program in nanotechnology.
Venezuela’s Bolivarian foreign policy has over the past decade sought to strengthen South-South cooperation, forging close ties particularly with nations such as Iran that have likewise aimed to challenge US global hegemony.
Venezuela and its Caribbean Neighbors Celebrate 10 Years of PetroCaribe
Ministers from Caribbean nations gathered in Caracas yesterday to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Venezuela’s widely acclaimed oil-sharing agreement known as PetroCaribe.
Created by President Hugo Chavez on July 29, 2005, PetroCaribe provides its eighteen Caribbean member nations with 100,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil daily,60% of which is paid up-front, while the remaining 40% can be paid over the course of 25 years at 1% interest.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro paid tribute to the program, recognizing its contributions to regional integration.
“10 years later, PetroCaribe advances, consolidating Caribbean brotherhood, taking gigantic steps towards independence and equality,” the socialist leader stated via Twitter.
PetroCaribe prides itself on its alternative compensation mechanisms, which enable member nations to repay Venezuela by bartering goods and services. For instance, Cuba sends doctors, Jamaica provides clinker, Guyana offers rice crops, and Nicaragua exports dairy products, meat, sugar, and cattle.
The program also finances development projects in member nations via the ALBA Caribe Fund, which has financed 69 initiatives to the tune of $106 million.
Haiti, which has been devastated by neoliberal structural adjustment implemented in the wake of two coups, has been a key beneficiary of PetroCaribe, partnering with Venezuela to invest nearly $1.2 billion in 234 projects between 2011 and 2014.