Friday, April 28, 2006

Venezuela Oil Sales To Cuba $1.6 Billion In 2005 Trade Climbs

Venezuela Oil Sales To Cuba $1.6 Billion In 2005, Trade Climbs
04-27-06 03:40 PM EST

CARACAS -(Dow Jones)- Venezuela's sales of crude and oil derived
products to Cuba reached $1.62 billion in 2005, the fifth straight year
of rising trade between both countries.

Total trade including non-oil products reached $1.76 billion last year,
Luis Hernandez Muino, vice president of state-run export bank Bancoex,
said Thursday.

Muino's oil sales figures offer a rare glimpse into the extent of
Venezuela's energy dealings with the Caribbean country.

Venezuela's non-oil exports to the island stood at $88 million by the
end of last year, while imports from Cuba reached $53 million, Bancoex
figures show.

So far 131 companies financed by Bancoex export their goods to Cuba,
according to bank data.

"We hope that, starting this year, the number of Venezuelan companies
investing in or exporting to Cuba will increase," Muino said at a
day-long Venezuela-Cuba business roundtable in Caracas.

Most of the trade involves the metals and mining sector, manufacturing
and construccion, some of Cuba's key areas of need.

Most Venezuelan companies involved in trading with Fidel Castro's
government are small to medium sized companies with little export

Under President Hugo Chavez Venezuela has stepped up economic relations
with Cuba mostly by supplying oil to Castro's ailing economy.

Last year state-owned company Petroleos de Venezuela (PVZ.YY) or PdVSA,
shipped an average of 90,000 barrels of crude a day to Cuba, according
to government figures.

Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez has said oil exports to the Caribbean
country will likely remain unchanged this year because Cuba has
discovered some oil of its own. Venezuela has long argued that it
charges Cuba the same oil prices rates it charges other nations in the

Moreover, the Chavez administration insists Cuba pays its bills on time,
partly with services rendered by Cuban doctors in Venezuela's poor barrios.

Thousands of Cuban doctors and other professionals live in Venezuela to
support Chavez's social spending programs and other large-scale projects.

Chavez, a leftist leader and avowed friend of Castro, has repeatedly
talked of integrating the economies of both countries.

Doing business with Cuba, he has said, is Venezuela's legitimate right
and fits into his campaign to foster a multipolar world where the U.S.
has a reduced role.

--By Raul Gallegos, Dow Jones Newswires; 58-212-564-1339; raul.gallegos@

(END) Dow Jones Newswires
04-27-06 1540ET

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