U.S. Ex-Im Bank Suspends Guarantees For Venezuela

By Agence France-Presse The U.S. Export-Import Bank has suspended all new credits and loan guarantees for Venezuela, bank spokesman Bo Ollison said April 30. "The bank will not be processing any new applications for transactions involving Venezuela," he said. "The reasons for that decision were the detrimental economic conditions that currently exist in Venezuela, and the board has determined that a reasonable assurance of repayment, which we have to have in all of our transactions, doesn't currently exist in Venezuela." Transactions that have already been approved will not be affected. The decision became effective April 17, Ollison said. "There is no timetable set for reviewing. ... A lot will depend on the economic situation in Venezuela," he said. The Export-Import Bank is an independent U.S. agency that grants credits or loan guarantees to promote the foreign sale of U.S. services, products and capital goods. Venezuela, which imported more than $4.4 billion of U.S. goods in 2002, had long been one of the Ex-Im Bank's 10 top clients. The Venezuelan government announced strict currency exchange controls on Jan. 21 by limiting the sale of dollars to stanch the loss of foreign reserves. Venezuela's economy shrank nearly 9% last year, according to the International Monetary Fund, which forecast an additional contraction of around 17% of GDP for 2003. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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