Thursday, 19 September 2013


Venezuela's Maduro To Make First Official China Visit


CARACAS--Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro is scheduled to make his first official state visit to China this weekend in a bid to extend economic ties between countries.

Mr. Maduro will begin his three-day visit to Beijing Saturday, the government said in a statement Tuesday. The trip comes on heels of Venezuela's deal to go through with the $14 billion development of its Junin 1 heavy oil bloc with China Petrochemical Corp., also known as Sinopec.

The agreement was struck during Venezuela Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez's preparatory meetings in China this week, the Information Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

The state visit will be Mr. Maduro's first since taking office in April, following the death of charismatic leader Hugo Chavez. Relations between China and Venezuela broadly strengthened during Mr. Maduro's nearly seven-year stint as foreign minister in the Chavez administration.

Over the past several years, Venezuela has received around $40 billion in loans from the Asian nation, which are partly being repaid through shipments of 600,000 barrels of oil a day.

Chinese companies are also highly active in the South American country's energy, mining, housing and telecommunications sectors.

The Venezuela-Sinopec project at Junin 1 will produce 200,000 barrels of crude per day, the government statement said.

It added Mr. Ramirez met with officials from China's Citic Group for a deal to construct industrial condominiums in Venezuela's vast Orinoco heavy oil belt, where the government plans to implement an ambitious development plan of its crude reserves.

Mr. Ramirez also will meet with China National Petroleum Corp. as well as executives from "the financial sector of China," the Information Ministry said.

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