Next week representatives from Venezuela are coming to Belize to meet with local officials on the possibility of opening payment for the cash portion of the PetroCaribe arrangement by barter – trading local goods in exchange for oil sales. CEO of the Ministry of Trade and Investment Michael Singh details the scope of the negotiations.
“Specifically there’s a meting on the 17th, where the PetroCaribe people are coming in to look at exactly that. We’ve putting a meeting together which is going to include the Ministry of Agriculture, the Marketing Development Corporation, BELTRAIDE, Export Belize. We’re all getting together to look at what products will fit under this.
The way the mechanism works is not so much that we pay the finance part of it in products. We actually pay the cash portion. The portion that normally would be paid up front, would then be paid to producers in Belize, of the products that would qualify, and those products would then be shipped to Venezuela in lieu of money.
Now that’s a good thing, because it means that we can stimulate production within Belize. It also meant that we’re not going to have to find foreign exchange to pay that portion of the bill.”
According to Michael Singh, Belize can find new markets for products with potential for export.
“ Foods products, that’s on top of the list, things like grains, chickens, fruit juices, all the things that we produce I think can qualify. The grains are certainly of high priority, because its basic food item that can feed animals, but we are also looking at services. There is a potential of trading services for training. One of the areas that they are interesting in is English education. So, if we can offer English education to Venezuelans in exchange for oil, I think it’s a good exchange.
So those are all the things we’re looking at. We’re actually putting together a basket that we will present on the 17th., and start discussing how we can make those available for expoet.”