CARACAS – Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro departed Wednesday for China in search of agreements to bolster the oil-exporting country’s collapsing economy, AFP reports. Maduro said the trip was “very necessary, very opportune and full of great expectations.”
“We are leaving under better conditions, having activated a program of economic recovery, growth and prosperity. We are going to improve, broaden and deepen relations with this great world power,” he said in a televised address.
Maduro’s government has massively devalued the national currency as part of a raft of measures intended to halt the economy’s free-fall into hyperinflation.
The International Monetary Fund projects Venezuela’s inflation rate will reach 1,000,000 percent by the end of the year.
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have fled the country, most of them into neighboring Latin American countries.
The trip to China is Maduro’s first outside the country since he was allegedly targeted by exploding drones at a military parade in Caracas August 4.
Venezuela’s crude oil production meanwhile fell in August to 1,448,000 barrels per day, a drop of 21,000 on the month before according to figures released by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The figure represents the lowest level of crude produced in three decades, excluding a strike that lasted from December 2002 to February 2003.
The volume reported by the government remains the lowest of the last three decades, excluding the fall recorded by a strike of the sector between December 2002 and February 2003.
The government attributed the collapse to poor management of state oil giant PDVSA, which has been caught up in multiple cases of corruption, and to decreasing investments in infrastructure as a result of falling revenues.
It also blames sanctions by Washington that prevent the oil company from negotiating new debt in the United States.