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Venezuela is experiencing an uneven economic recovery

Caracas, May 16 (EFE) .- Venezuela, in full economic recovery after seven years of decline, forecasts a growth of between 5 and 8% for this year, according to experts, who consider that the improvement will be irregular in the different sectors and difficult to maintain over time. Economic activity, which has contracted 80% since 2013, responds positively to a change in government policies, which has opened up to the dollar, after years of rejecting the currency, and to private investors, while reducing controls and the interventions to companies, as explained to Efe by the economist Giorgio Cunto. This opening has given rise to new businesses, a greater supply of products, growth in industrial operations, the return of airlines that had ceased operations in the country and a greater pumping of oil, and even the celebration of concerts or cultural activities. , on hold for years. PROJECTIONS SURPASSED At the end of 2021, the firm Ecoanalítica calculated Venezuela’s economic growth for this year at 5%, a projection that has risen up to three points, as a result of the recovery of commercial activity and the rise in oil prices after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Cunto, a member of the consultancy, explained that the projected growth responds, mainly, to the “reversal of the policies of deep interventionism” by the Executive, which de facto liberalized the economy, which allowed a dollarization that has honestized the costs and prices. This improvement, he pointed out, has been seen in dollarized niches -especially in metropolitan areas- associated with the commerce and services sector, spaces where “all Venezuelans do not fit, but only those who have the capacity to consume” due to factors such as decapitalization, savings or access to foreign exchange. According to the expert, food, health, retail, personal care, technology, professional services, chemicals and real estate are the sectors that have registered the greatest improvement. THE PRIVATE SECTOR Fedecamaras, the main employer in the country, expects that, in a conservative scenario, the economy will grow 5% this year and that sectors such as services, restaurants, entertainment, tourism, air, furniture and manufacturing will join the recovery process . The president of the employers’ association, Carlos Fernández, told Efe that the private sector grew 4% last year compared to 2020 due to dollarization and the relaxation of restrictions associated with the pandemic. “The pandemic and the economic situation itself have brought many opportunities for new players, smaller, more flexible, more technological and less risk-averse,” said Fernández, who pointed out that this type of information does not exist officially. The most recent survey of the situation prepared by the Confederation of Industrialists (Conindustria) shows that the operability of the manufacturing sector rose nine points in one year, going from 19% in the first quarter of 2021 to 28% in the same period of this year. According to the study, in which 94 companies participated, 59% of those surveyed perceived that the economic situation had improved in the last year and 45% said that it will improve in 2022. A SLOW RECOVERY Cunto assured that, after this initial advance, the growth will slow down in the coming years and warned that, unless “there is a productive impulse that can be extended”, Venezuela “can easily reach 2025 (or) 2027 without having recovered its size” compared to 2019, before the pandemic. “If Venezuela grew at rates of 8% every year, which would be similar to the implicit rate at which Japan grew after World War II, an economic miracle, it would take about two decades to return to its 2013 levels.” , he added. For his part, Fernández believes that if bank credit is reactivated, highly restricted by the “high” legal reserve, and the operating licenses of transnationals in the oil sector are made more flexible, the economy could grow more. However, he maintained that, for there to really be a structural change, “it is necessary to resolve the political issue” through negotiations that lead to a re-institutionalization of the country, which could generate confidence, which is key for an economy to grow. President Nicolás Maduro recently stated that he is open to dialogue with the private sector to strengthen economic recovery. “If Venezuela grows economically, we will all win. Enough of strategies for economic warfare. We are all going to work, because this way things work and work well,” he said. Carlos Seijas Meneses (c) Agencia EFE

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