Caracas consults North Korea on anti-sanctions strategy
Caracas, 30 November (Argus) — Venezuela's central bank is seeking North Korea's advice on how to circumvent US financial sanctions that are blocking efforts to restructure up to $70bn in bond debt and secure fresh financing for state-owned oil company PdV's investments.
Central bank authorities yesterday hosted a presentation by North Korean diplomats who shared their country's experience devising effective alternatives for achieving sustained growth while evading US financial and economic sanctions, according to a statement issued by the bank in Caracas. The event was closed to reporters and the public.
The meeting is sure to raise alarm bells in western and Asia-Pacific capitals at a time when North Korea is stepping up its campaign for nuclear weapons.
The US is preparing a fresh package of sanctions to target all of North Korea's international financial transactions, including non-dollar transactions, as it ratchets up pressure even on its closest allies to cut off all relations with Pyongyang.
The US Treasury says separately it is scrutinizing the finances of PdV´s US subsidiary Citgo to ensure the company complies with a prohibition on transfer of dividends and other form of profits to Caracas.
The Venezuelan central bank said yesterday's presentation was led by North Korea's ambassador in Venezuela, whom the bank identified as Ri Sung-Gil.
In 2014 North Korea received Venezuelan foreign ministry authorization to open an embassy in Caracas, but calls to the number listed for the embassy were not answered.
The event was organized by the central bank's revolutionary workers movement, which is an offshoot of president Nicolas Maduro's ruling socialist party (PSUV).
The North Korean diplomats also met privately with central bank president Ramon Lobo, a Marxist economist affiliated institutionally with Spain's leftist Podemos party, which operates in Venezuela as an institutional economic policy advisor to president Maduro.
The bank's meeting with North Korean diplomats stationed in Caracas "was realized for the purpose of highlighting the North Korean experience in self-determination and political, economic and social sovereignty when faced with the interventionist military threat of hegemonic countries like United States," the bank statement said.
Central bank director Jose Khan praised North Korea's "socioeconomic growth" and declared that Venezuela can "emulate" the Asian country's achievements.
"We must learn from North Korea's socio-productive experience. We as a people can start a process of formation to reindustrialize Venezuela's economy and progressively reduce our dependence on other hegemonic states," Khan said adding that Venezuela has the resources to overcome "economic strangulation" imposed by Washington.