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Venezuela to get $4 billion loan from China: Chavez
by Staff Writers
Caracas (AFP) Dec 13, 2011

Venezuela has reached agreement with a Chinese bank for a $4 billion dollar loan to finance housing construction in the South American country, President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday.

"Yesterday, another $4 billion credit for Venezuela was agreed in Beijing with another Chinese bank, above all to build houses," Chavez said in a radio and television address.

Chavez, who plans to run for re-election to a third term next year, has promised to build two million new state-funded housing units in six years to alleviate a shortage.

The latest agreement, signed during a visit to China by Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, came several days after the signing in Caracas of a Chinese credit for $6 billion for the Venezuelan oil industry.

About $4 billion of that credit is to finance a boost in production by a Chinese-Venezuelan oil company, Sinovensa, which operates in the Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt, which holds the world's largest reserves of heavy crude oils.

The joint venture currently produces 118,000 barrels of oil a day, but the goal is to increase production to 1.1 million barrels a day by 2014.

Venezuela currently produces an average three million barrels of oil a day.

The rest of the $6 billion credit will go for refining projects and the acquisition of equipment.

China has extended credit lines of at least $20 billion to Venezuela in recent years and the two countries have a $12 billion fund for joint development projects.

China has become Venezuela's second largest trade partner after the United States.

In November, Chavez said bilateral trade with China would rise from $17 billion in 2011 to $20 billion next year, compared to $300 million a year a decade ago.

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