Sunday, June 23, 2013

PETROCARIBE: Cooperation within a new framework

By Mario Esquive

THE integrationist enterprise PETROCARIBE, launched in 2005 to support Latin American and Caribbean energy security, has designed new structures for cooperation, meant to consolidate its position internationally.

Critical to this effort is a proposal to work for the creation of a PETROCARIBE Economic Zone, subject to analysis of specific national characteristics by members’ respective governments.

The objective looks to support the strengthening of member countries economically and socially, through the establishment of a framework for trade and stimulation of productive activities

According to experts, this option differs from similar, traditional schema in which, for the most part, foreign industrial and service businesses are authorized to function within an area, under a regimen of financial and administrative benefits and exemptions.

In the case of PETROCARIBE, the special economic zone would facilitate the articulation of production sequences through a regional development plan.

Venezuelan President Nicol├ís Maduro noted that June 29, the anniversary of the group’s foundation, would be an appropriate occasion to make concrete decisions along these lines, above all in the economic and financial spheres.

The measures, he added, must lead to the strengthening of investments in key areas such as agriculture, agricultural industry, technology and tourism, among other economic activities.

Figures indicate that PDVSA (Petr├│leos de Venezuela) has sold 232 million barrels of oil to the country’s 17 associates in the group over the last six years.

The daily average delivery of 108,000 barrels by PDVSA covers 40% of the consumption requirements of PETROCARIBE member nations.

The enterprise agreement operates within a financing framework which uses prices on the international market as a reference. However, dispositions exist to support member countries, such as grace periods for payment over one or two years, along with the option to cancel a portion of the debt with food supplies.

Now the economic zone strategy is looking to consolidate productive sectors in order to generate economic earnings to make the cooperative operation sustainable.

The agreement, which includes 18 countries, has thus far made advances in the social arena which go beyond the supply of fuel under favorable financial conditions.

Through the ALBA-Caribe Fund, 179 million dollars have been allocated for 85 projects in 12 countries, in addition to $22 million for electrical works.

By way of the ALBA Food Fund, 24 million dollars were made available to a dozen initiatives to promote sustainable production of basic food items.

Additionally, 12 joint venture companies have undertaken 48 projects in their respective countries. (Orbe)
June 20, 2013