HAVANA TIMES — The heads of state and government of the member countries of Petrocaribe approved on Saturday a work plan that includes five points defining a “Special Economic Zone” between member countries based mainly on the exchange of food products for oil, reported DPA news.
The Minister of Energy and Petroleum of Venezuela, Rafael Ramirez told reporters the plan approved by the plenary of Petrocaribe includes an initiative to “link” by air the member countries of the cooperation mechanisms, through the Venezuelan airline Conviasa.
Ramirez said the plan includes the use of Venezuela tankers to promote trade among the Petrocaribe member countries, strengthening the “production chains” and identification of installed capacity in each of the bloc’s members.
He said the summit also adopted initiatives to boost tourism, fair trade and social and cultural integration of the members of Petrocaribe, created by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2005.
Shortly before the summit, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said at a hotel in the Nicaraguan capital that the summit would analyze the mechanisms to enhance the exchange of food for oil. However at the closing of the event no specific agreements referred to this subject.
Nicaragua is precisely one of the Petrocaribe member countries using the payment of food products for oil. According to an official report, Nicaragua last year paid 80 percent of the oil bill with food, which meant the disbursement of about US $ 500 million.
According to an official report, such a mechanism meant that in 2012, Nicaragua exported to Venezuela 496,389 metric tons of food to pay its oil bill of about 11.8 million barrels of oil, at a cost of US $1.233 billion.
Nicaragua pays Venezuela 50 percent of its oil bill in 90 days, and 50 percent over 25 years, with two years of grace and an interest rate of five percent annually.