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Venezuela, China Sign $1.3 Billion Tanker Deal

Venezuela has signed a $1.3 billion agreement with China to purchase 18 oil tankers to facilitate the south American country's expanding Asian market.

A spokesman for Venezuela's state-run oil company says the agreement also calls for China to help build shipyards in Venezuela and train its workers.

The oil company says it hopes to expand its total fleet of tankers to at least 42 ships

Venezuelan officials say the nation currently sells about 15 percent of its oil and other petroleum products to China and would like to increase that to about 45 percent by 2012. Venezuela is among the world's largest oil exporters.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he wants to increase trade with China - and rely less on the United States as a customer for its oil.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP, Bloomberg and Reuters.