China will lend Venezuela’s government $5 billion to help the South American country produce more oil. Venezuela is seeking to ramp up production in coming months to offset steep losses caused by falling prices for crude, the nation’s main export, according to media reports.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced the deal Tuesday in a speech in China that was broadcast on Venezuelan state television, the Associated Press reported. Maduro did not provide details about the loan agreement.
Oil prices are down around 60 percent since their peak in 2014, largely because of a surge in global oil production and waning demand in China. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was trading at $49.06 a barrel Wednesday morning, when the U.S. benchmark was trading at $44.68 a barrel.
The Maduro government has estimated it needs oil prices at more than $100 a barrel to break even on its budget. Venezuela relies on crude sales for roughly 96 percent of its export revenue, and more than one-half the country’s gross domestic product.
The Chinese loan may give some support to bond markets, where Venezuela’s debt securities are rated among the riskiest worldwide, AP reported. The latest support by Beijing will be provided in addition to a separate $5 billion loan to Caracas, which the Maduro government secured in April to stimulate the country’s recession-stricken economy. All told, China has lent Venezuela more than $50 billion since 2005, making it the nation’s largest creditor in recent years.
Maduro is among the leaders of 30 countries in China this week to celebrate the defeat of invading Japanese forces 70 years ago. The Venezuelan president is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday to discuss ways to stabilize oil prices, a Kremlin aide said this week. Russia has also been slammed by lower oil prices, as crude and natural gas account for one-half of its federal budget revenue.