Several CARICOM countries, led by St. Vincent and the Grenadines have agreed to revive the Petro Caribe deal with Venezuela, a deal that began back in 2005 and saw countries in Central America and the Caribbean purchasing oil directly from Venezuela on conditions of preferential payment.
The deal collapsed when the United States imposed tough sanctions on Venezuela in 2019, sending that country’s economy in to tailspin.
Now, with the energy challenges facing the world and the rise in fuel prices, several CARICOM countries want to bank on Venezuela once again for their energy needs.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves at a press conference at the closing of the CARICOM heads meeting in Suriname yesterday.
“Ten weeks ago I was in Caracas and I spoke with President Maduro about the resumption of the PetroCaribe arrangement and in fact, the decision has been made for the resumption of it with all things being equal with a 35% off the top—upfront, so clearly we want to go and get this,” Mr. Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves said that CARICOM countries that relied heavily on the Petrocaribe arrangement suffered when it came to an end.
According to the Vincentian Prime Minister, although the U.S has sanctioned Venezuela, in recent times, it has been looking to Caracas for energy products itself. He said CARICOM cannot afford to be left out, given what is happening globally.
It was to this end Prime Minister Gonsalves noted that CARICOM will indulge the US, to drop its sanctions against Venezuela.
“We are not doing this in any combative way, we are not doing this in any confrontational way, there is a dialogue, a conversation between friends—Caricom and the United States of America and the Venezuelans are also our friends so this is how mature and responsible leaders are trying to address an issue which is very much in front of us,” Gonsalves noted.
A number of CARICOM states, including Guyana, have been grappling with the rising price of fuel and fuel products globally. Some countries have been forced to remove import taxes in an effort to cushion the effects of the high oil prices.