Mexico City, Mexico, April 11, 2023 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela and Russia are set to launch a new shipping route, deepening trade ties between the two countries, the head of the Russian-Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce told Sputnik.
Russian-Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce President Roman Frolenko added that trade between Russia and Venezuela was projected to rise to US$300 million a month.
“We calculated that trade could be somewhere in the range of $300 million per month, this is without oil,” Frolenko told Sputnik.
As part of its efforts to diversify its economy, Venezuela is expected to increase its export of goods not related to the hydrocarbon industry, traditionally the most important source of foreign currency. Coffee, fruit and meats are some of the industries that Caracas has looked to boost in international markets.
Frolenko said the new trade route would run from Puerto Cabello in Venezuela to an as-of-yet undetermined port in Russia, with the latter considering Sevastopol, Saint Petersburg and Novorossiysk.
Puerto Cabello is a key port in Venezuela with extensive infrastructure already installed. The Venezuelan government has also promoted the creation of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the coastal city following the approval of a law aimed at boosting national production and creating new sources of foreign investment beyond dependence on oil exports. The law, however, has faced criticism from within Chavista ranks, with critics alleging that the law does not comply with the 1999 Constitution.
Venezuela and Russia have enjoyed close relations over the last two decades as the Venezuelan government of the late Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro sought to break away from the country’s economic dependency on the United States.
US sanctions on both Venezuela and Russia, which place burdensome barriers on trade and complicate international logistics, have impacted the relationship but have likewise served to bring the two allies closer, particularly in light of efforts by the US and its allies to isolate both countries for geopolitical reasons. In 2021, the two governments signed a 10-year plan to set up long term cooperation in several areas.
Maduro has publicly denounced efforts to isolate Russia, saying it was a strategy aimed at destroying the country in order to deter the development of a “multipolar” world.
Venezuela is also seeking to expand its technological ties with Russia and China after being invited to take part in their joint International Lunar Research Station project. Marglad Bencomo, executive director of the Bolivarian Agency for Space Activities (ABAE), recently visited China’s Deep Space Exploration Laboratory at Nanjing University. Venezuela is expected to soon sign a memorandum of understanding with the China National Space Administration (CNSA) in order to formalize the partnership.
Construction of the International Lunar Research Station is expected to begin in the early 2030’s. China has previously cooperated with the ABAE to build and launch Venezuelan satellites.
President Maduro traveled to China in 2018 to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The countries signed 28 comprehensive agreements, which included joint plans for a fourth satellite. Venezuela launched the Bolívar, Miranda and Sucre satellites in 2008, 2012 and 2017, respectively.
For his part, the Chinese president recently traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin as the two countries deepen ties in the shadow of looming threats by the US against both countries.
Facing hostility from US politicians from both sides of the aisle, Venezuela has likewise opted to move closer to China and Russia and away from US and its NATO allies. Maduro recently hardened his stance against demands from Brussels, Washington to move up presidential elections, confirming they will be held according to constitutional mandates.
Efforts by Washington and Brussels to economically, politically, and diplomatically isolate the Maduro government have largely failed, with Venezuela re-establishing relations with a number of states in the region while strengthening ties with longstanding allies such as Russia and China.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.