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Russia and Venezuela propose new strategic areas of cooperation

Venezuelan delegation presented the reality of the country in the face of sanctions and how the economy has recovered at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum

Strategic cooperation in different areas, resistance to unilateral coercive measures and technological and knowledge exchange were some of the topics addressed by the delegations of Venezuela and Russia, which took part this Wednesday in a binational dialogue on the first day of the XXVII Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum 2024, reported a press release from the Ministry of Industries and National Production.

During the meeting, the sectoral vice president of Economy and Minister of Popular Power of Industries and National Production, José Félix Rivas Alvarado, recalled the historical reasons that unite both nations.

Rivas Alvarado referred to the fact that Venezuela has overcome more than 900 sanctions imposed since 2015, which have caused losses of about 642 billion dollars. That figure, he highlighted, exceeds South America's current international reserves, estimated at around 598 billion dollars.

In this regard, he cited the Economic Recovery, Growth and Prosperity Program established by President Nicolás Maduro in 2018 as a fundamental basis.

In this sense, he highlighted three aspects, pointing out that the first is the strict execution of the economic program. The president said: “we are going to get out of the blockade, we are going to recover the economy and we are going to stabilize the economy, despite the blockade.”

As for the second, he expressed that it is “the institutional legal framework, some existing rules of the game along with new ones that arose from the blockade to protect investments and face this very particular situation.”

While the third refers to "the potential that Venezuela has, not only its natural resources, but also its particular form of organization, its political and economic model established together with the people," highlighted the head of Industries.

Stabilization of the economy

Rivas Alvarado assured that an economic program is measured by its results and pointed out that in Venezuela the economy was managed to stabilize, including growth.

“We suffered a destruction of economic capacity, but we managed to implement a non-recessive economic program, on the contrary, we managed to recover growth,” he stated.

Among the achievements, the economic vice president mentioned food sovereignty, the recovery of the agricultural sector, the stabilization of the main prices, the reduction of the inflation rate, the diversification of the economy and the attraction of new foreign investors in non-oil sectors.

In this order of ideas, he addressed possibilities of cooperation in sectors such as: energy, mining, basic industries, tourism, agroindustry, metalworking, chemicals, petrochemicals, plastics, textiles, tourism, fishing and forestry. To this end, he assured that there is a solid regulatory framework that guarantees optimal conditions for foreign investment.

Among these legal bases, he mentioned the Hydrocarbons Law, the Anti-Blockade Law, the Law of Special Economic Zones and the Law of Productive Foreign Investments. Likewise, he highlighted an institutional framework such as the International Center for Productive Investment (CIIP). “Venezuela is the gateway to a continent with a tremendous future like Latin America and the Caribbean,” he concluded.

Tourism as a secret weapon

In his participation, the Minister of Tourism, Alí ​​Padrón, cited President Nicolás Maduro when referring to this sector as “Venezuela's secret weapon.” We have immense potential. We are the seventh most diverse country on the planet. We have a unique Caribbean (…) the Amazon, mountains, gastronomy, agriculture, art and a strategic location.”

Likewise, he recalled that tourism was also affected by the sanctions, especially from 2013 to 2019, due to the high cost of air transportation to Venezuela. However, now "we are going to exceed projections in 2024. These first five months make us predict that we will have very positive numbers and higher than the last 20 years."

Likewise, he highlighted that the tourism sector has had 11 consecutive quarters of growth. “Why invest in Venezuela? Because we are a country that has achieved stability in the exchange rate, in interest rates, in economic growth. In addition, we have a very privileged position in the Caribbean for access to American markets,” Padrón pointed out.

Russia determining food sovereignty

The Minister of Productive Agriculture and Lands, Wilmar Castro Soteldo, also participated in the activity. There, he emphasized that the agri-food sector was one of the main axes that President Maduro assumed as a challenge in the face of sanctions.

“In 2017 we reached terrible figures: 12% supply and 36% vulnerable population from a nutritional point of view. This forced us to take exceptional measures,” he said.

The results speak for themselves. Venezuela achieved its food sovereignty in 2024 and has 15 consecutive quarters of agricultural growth, he said.

Castro Soteldo added that science, technology and grassroots organizations were fundamental allies in these achievements. But, so was the cooperation with Russia, a country that is currently the largest supplier of wheat to Venezuela.

“Within the framework of the economic policies of President Nicolás Maduro, the Special Agri-Food Economic Zone (ZEEA) are highly productive lands made available to produce jointly, and exchange productive experiences. We have around 6 million hectares with forestry potential, 4 million 400 thousand hectares in vegetable agricultural vocation; which implies a huge investment of 133 million rubles (347 million dollars),” said Soteldo, according to the institution's IG account.

Likewise, he highlighted the potential of the Eastern Special Economic Zone (ZEEAO), which has 20 projects that require mechanization, irrigation systems and technologies for animal and plant genetics, among others, inviting Russian businessmen to participate.

"We make 15 million hectares available to Russian businessmen that have a set of incentives such as the refund of the Income Tax (ISLR), 100% in the first 10 years of the investment, exemption from the customs tax for 5 years in the import of capital goods, technologies, inputs, bioinputs, synthetic products, raw materials,” Castro urged.

In another area, he asked the Russian airline Aeroflot to start its flights with our country in order to facilitate connectivity to promote tourism.

For this reason, he highlighted several possibilities for binational cooperation and exchange in agroindustrial matters. “Venezuela puts 15 million hectares at the disposal of Russia along with a series of incentives,” he asserted. For example: tariff facilities and exemptions, payment of preferential rates, exceptional conditions for leasing land, among others.

Also attending the dialogue day for Venezuela were the Minister of Communes and Social Movements, Guy Vernáez; the Venezuelan ambassador in Moscow, Jesús Salazar Velascas and Calixto Ortega, president of the Central Bank of Venezuela, among others.

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