Venezuela's Maduro travels to China looking for new money

Venezuela's Maduro travels to China looking for new money

By Corina Pons

Caracas (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is traveling to China to discuss economic agreements as the OPEC nation hit by the crisis wants to convince its Asian financier to pay off new loans.

"I'm going with great expectations and we'll see each other again in a few days with big successes," said the leftist leader on Wednesday in a state broadcast from the airport, without giving any details.

The Ministry of Information of Venezuela has not responded to a request for comment.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement by official news agency Xinhua that Maduro will be visiting Thursday-Saturday at the invitation of President Xi Jinping. There were no other details.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez is currently in China and met with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement on Wednesday.

The two countries have had friendly relations for a long time and cooperation has been "steadily progressing in all areas," quoted the ministry Wang Rodriguez.

On Tuesday, Rodriguez met with Zhang Jianhua, president of CNPC, the leading state-owned energy company, to discuss the cooperation, said a leading source of oil handling the matter without giving any further details.

A CNPC spokesman did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

CNPC is a major investor in oil and gas exploration in Venezuela and also a leader in Venezuelan oil under the government's government lending for oil business.

For over a decade, China has pumped more than $ 50 billion into Venezuela through oil-to-credit agreements, securing Beijing's energy supply for its fast-growing economy while strengthening an ally against Washington in Latin America.

However, cash flow stopped nearly three years ago as Venezuela called for a change in the terms of payment that plunged its state-run economy into hyperinflationary collapse because of falling oil prices and declining crude oil production.

The Venezuelan Ministry of Finance said in July that it would receive $ 250 million from the China Development Bank to boost oil production, but offered no details. Venezuela has previously accepted a $ 5 billion loan from China for its oil sector, but has not yet received the entire amount.

Local adviser Asdrubal Oliveros, who closely tracks Chinese lending, said Wednesday that Venezuela was close to getting a new $ 5 billion loan to finance oil projects. Beijing is waiting for Maduro to announce a series of economic measures, including drastic devaluation and more flexible currency controls, before distributing new funds, Oliveros said.

(Additional coverage by Vivian Sequera and Alexandra Ulmer and Ben Blanchard and Chen Aizhu in Beijing and Brenda Goh in Shanghai, letter from Alexandra Ulmer, edited by Steve Orlofsky and Gopakumar Warrier)

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