|09CARACAS1467||2009-11-17 22:42:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Caracas|
1. (SBU) On November 17, the local press widely published an
announcement from the Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce and
Industry (VENAMCHAM) that bilateral trade between Venezuela and the
US had declined by over 50 percent in the first nine months of
2009, compared to the same period in 2008. According to the
report, based on US government statistics, Venezuelan exports to
the US dropped 50.9 percent during the third quarter of 2009,
falling from USD 16.8 billion in 2008 to USD 8.2 billion this year.
Petroleum and petroleum products made up the vast majority of
Venezuela's exports to the US during this period, representing 96.6
percent of total exports at a value of USD 7.9 billion.
2. (C) In a related trend, Venezuela's imports from the
United States declined 39 percent in the third quarter, dropping
from USD 3.4 billion in 2008 to USD 2 billion this year. According
to data from the Embassy's Agricultural Section, US agricultural
exports to Venezuela have slumped across several major categories
from January to September 2009 when compared to the same period in
2008, including bulk agricultural products (down from USD 767
million to USD 352 million), intermediate agricultural products
(USD 406 million to USD 297 million), and consumer oriented
products (USD 95 million to USD 78 million).
3. (C) While the onset of a recession and the fall of oil
prices have contributed to the dramatic decrease in the value of
bilateral trade, the GBRV has also pursued policies that have
complicated Venezuela's trade relationship with the US. These
include a currency control system that has limited access to
foreign exchange, an inefficient regulatory framework that has
often prohibited or intentionally delayed certain categories of
imports, and a general preference to import from ideological allies
instead of the US.