Venezuelan President Maduro in Qatar on oil support tour

Published September 6th, 2015 - 02:00 GMT
Oil makes up 96 percent of Venezuela's export revenue. (Photo courtesy Doha News)
Oil makes up 96 percent of Venezuela's export revenue. (Photo courtesy Doha News)

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro arrived in Qatar on Friday to find consensus on measures to boost low oil prices that have left the Latin American country's economy in tatters.

As he touched down in the capital Doha on the last leg of a tour of Asian oil producers, Maduro tweeted that he was in Qatar "completing this necessary tour and continuing to strengthen economic, financial, and energy ties."

Maduro has already visited Vietnam, where the two countries signed bilateral economic and strategic deals, and China, where he secured a $5 billion loan for Venezuela's oil industry.

In China, the Venezuelan leader was quoted as saying stable oil prices were something that "suited the world economy", but "oil should not be used for political, biological or economic war".

As Venezuela's largest creditor in recent years, China has loaned more than $50 billion to the struggling South American nation in the last decade. A majority of the debt has been repaid with oil in a deal set up by Maduro's predecessor, the late Hugo Chávez.

While in Beijing, Maduro also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country’s economy has also suffered from falling oil prices – down about half since mid-2014. Putin reportedly urged the two countries to "team up to shore up oil prices".

Maduro's trip was his second global tour of oil-producing countries this year. In January, he sought to convince a number of fellow OPEC countries to reduce output to boost oil prices -- calls that were not heeded.

Venezuela is thought to have the world's largest reserves of oil, making up 96 percent of its export revenue.

Critics say government policy is to blame for the dire state of Venezuela's economy, but Maduro has cited a range of external factors, particularly the United States, as well as the country's opposition, of colluding against Venezuela.

The country’s inflation rate stands at 68.5 percent, according to the latest official figures released in 2014.

Some economists believe, however, it is now in triple digits and could reach 150 percent by year's end.

By Ben Tavener

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