“Special Economic Zones” and Streamlined Currency Exchange

Venezuelan President Calls for Dialogue With Private Sector,
By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

The Venezuelan government hopes to encourage more foreign investment and a better relationship with the business community, President Nicolas Maduro stated yesterday.

Announcing the creation of a “National Savings Fund for Foreign Exchange”, Maduro said the government hopes to make currency exchange easier not only for businesses, but also “travellers, students” and Venezuelans living abroad.

In a meeting with business leaders in Zulia state, Maduro indicated that changes to current currency controls are needed not only to “overcome the parallel dollar”, but also address a backlog of currency exchange applications.

According to Maduro, there are pending applications for currency exchanges at the government rate dating back to 2011.

He also invited the private sector to work more with the government to contribute to the “development of the productive forces and the country's economy”, and announced plans to create “Special Economic Zones” in some regions. These zones would be granted special tax conditions, as well as other incentives to encourage foreign investment. Although he gave few details, Maduro indicated that they would be modeled on those that developed during China's trade liberalisation of the 1980's.

Maduro stated that more details will be announced soon, and Finance Minister Nelson Merentes will hold a series of meetings with business leaders across the country from 2 May. The meetings will focus on issues related to currency exchange, though Maduro also stated that the government will prioritise tackling inflation.

“We are in a transition process towards building a socialist economic model that merits the promotion of a special plan of a productive economic revolution, and that includes the participation of different sectors,” he said.

Maduro described the private sector as having the financial and political freedom to participate in an “economic revolution” to raise productivity and self sustainability.

“We have a strong and powerful domestic market with purchasing capacity, because we have a population with job security, good income and strong wages...Now we need a production system to respond to this,” he said.
Mérida, 26th April 2013 www.venezuelanalysis.com

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