Russia may allow Venezuela to purchase auto parts from a domestic manufacturer using its controversial state digital currency, the petro. Both countries are presently subject to US sanctions.
Following a meeting between representatives of the Venezuelan and Russian governments, Venezuela’s Foreign Trade Minister José Vielma Mora announced that attendees had discussed the possibility of using his nation’s oil-backed cryptocurrency, the petro, to purchase vehicle parts from the Russian automaker Kamaz.
Vielma’s statement, as reported by state media outlet AVN, suggests that Kamaz parts have previously been sent to Venezuela for assembly into vehicles, and that this practice would continue under the proposed new deal.
An article from Telesur TV, which is funded by several left-leaning Latin American governments, including Venezuela’s, relates that the talks by the Russia-Venezuela Mixed Commission also touched on the possibility of using the petro for international transactions.
Western media outlets have recently speculated that Russia assisted Venezuela in the creation of the token.
According to Vielma, Russia is also interested in importing certain Venezuelan goods, including steel, aluminum, flowers, coffee, cocoa, industrial textiles, and footwear. Furthermore, he said, the countries are considering collaborations across a range of sectors, from mining to shipping to military.
Both countries are currently the subjects of US sanctions, and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has publicly stated that the petro scheme was intended to reduce the impact of these punitive measures on his country’s economy. In announcing the possibility of a deal to swap petro tokens for automobile parts, Vielma declared that the “economic blockade by the US against Venezuela and other countries aims to distort the economy and inhibit the economic growth of those countries.”
This page, from a blockchain explorer site, appears to show a NEM wallet containing 100,000,000 petro tokens, which had no history of such tokens being transferred out. In light of the petro whitepaper‘s [pdf] claim that total issuance will be capped at 100,000,000 tokens, it would seem that no petros have yet been issued. Presale of the coin began on February 20 and shortly thereafter, Maduro claimed that it had brought in some $735 million.
ETHNews was unable to identify any cryptocurrency exchanges planning to list the controversial token. Without exchanges willing to swap the petro for other currencies, it’s unclear how Russia would convert any petro holdings it acquires into different fiat or cryptocurrencies.
After US President Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting American citizens and residents from owning or using the petro, the virtual currency marketplace Bitfinex released a statement asserting that it would not offer the digital asset to its users.
Opposition lawmakers in Venezuela have described the petro scheme as an illegal “forward sale of Venezuelan oil.”
Translations by the author.
Adam Reese is a Los Angeles-based writer interested in technology, domestic and international politics, social issues, infrastructure and the arts. Adam is a full-time staff writer for ETHNews and holds value in Ether, Bitcoin, and Monero.
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