CARACAS Jan 4 Venezuelan President Nicolas
Maduro said on Sunday he will visit China and several
unspecified OPEC countries during a week-long tour meant to
improve the South American nation's finances, which have been
weakened by tumbling crude prices.
"I'm leaving today for an international tour ... a very
important tour to take on new projects, given the circumstances
of falling income that our country faces," Maduro said during a
His first stop will be China, which has become Venezuela's
principal financier through oil-for-loan agreements in which
Venezuela receives cash up front in exchange for future
deliveries of crude and fuel.
"Also, I'm going to visit other OPEC countries to continue
high-level efforts (to create) a strategy for a recovery of oil
prices, a strengthening of OPEC," Maduro said. He provided no
Venezuela's economy contracted during the first three
quarters of 2014, and its international reserves have
deteriorated sharply amid tumbling oil prices.
The decline has spurred concerns that Venezuela may default
on its foreign bonds, which in turn has pushed its bond yields
to the highest of any emerging market nation.
Maduro denies the country will default. But he says
Venezuela's government needs financing in 2015 and says
borrowing on international markets is prohibitively expensive.
(Reporting by Eyanir Chinea; Writing by Brian Ellsworth;
Editing by Leslie Adler)