Venezuela to buy US50m in food from Trinidad and Tobago
PORT OF SPAIN - Venezuela, which is facing a severe economic and political crisis, has agreed to buy US$50 million in food from neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago. Among the priority items Venezuela had requested were butter, chicken, pork, ketchup, rice and black beans.
News of the purchase came on Monday from Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro at a joint press conference with Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in Port of Spain.
In addressing the media, some of whom were from Venezuela, Maduro described his meeting with Rowley and his Cabinet as fruitful and successful, promising to strengthen ties and the relationship with Trinidad and Tobago going forward, the Trinidad Guardian reported.
“We need to continue working hard in the future to further our relations in the premise of principles of respect, brotherhood and co-operation,” Maduro told Rowley.
Among the issues discussed were trade, security and repatriation of citizens who are currently detained in prisons on both sides.
The Trinidad and Tobago government also signed a memorandum of understanding with Maduro to purchase gas from Venezuela, which Maduro said stood to benefit both countries.
“We look forward from Trinidad and Tobago to provide significant relief to the people of Venezuela. This relief to come from a supply of manufactured goods from Trinidad and Tobago,” Rowley told Maduro.
“We have created a joint venture that would be responsible to conduct all the investments required in order to tap those resources for the benefit of both countries.
“We have also decided to increase the trade flow between the two nations. We have already established the contacts and very soon, through a revolving fund with US$50 million, we will be able to strengthen the flow of trade between Trinidad and the Eastern part of Venezuela,” Maduro said.
Following Maduro’s address, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon spoke about the arrangements that would be put in place for Venezuela to obtain much needed food.
She said the US$50 million fund Venezuela had established would be used to purchase manufactured goods from Trinidad and Tobago, which would be sent to the eastern states of Venezuela, which have been faced with a shortage of food for months.
Initially, Gopee Scoon said the government had looked at Venezuela exchanging petroleum for goods from Trinidad and Tobago but that plan did not work out.
“However, this is a different arrangement. We are speaking now of the Venezuelan government paying for goods from Trinidad and Tobago. So a fund has been set up and the president of Venezuela did in fact speak about it,” Gopee-Scoon said.
She said the goods would be available at cost price by the suppliers and promised that payments to suppliers would be easy and swift.
Photo: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, left, and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley exchange a handshake during a joint press conference following bilateral talks in Trinidad on Monday. Photo: Abraham Diaz/Trinidad Guardian