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Venezuela Lets Uruguay Pay for Oil With Goods, Services

FILE - Patrons line up in a San Cristobal supermarket parking lot in shortage-plagued Venezuela, Jan. 22, 2015

OPEC member Venezuela said Tuesday that it had modified a deal with beef-exporting Uruguay to allow it to pay for oil with goods and services, in the latest move possibly designed to ease shortages.

Under a July contract, Venezuela promised to supply 12,330 barrels of oil per day to Uruguay this year. In addition to beef, Uruguay also exports dairy products, soy, rice and oranges.

The presidents of both South American countries changed the 2005 cooperation agreement in late January, the Venezuelan government's official Daily Gazette reported Tuesday.

Under the original deal, Montevideo can pay for as much as 25 percent of its purchases over 15 years, as long as Venezuela's export barrel price remains above $30.

Now, it can pay for as much as 50 percent with goods and services that have been preapproved by the government of Nicolas Maduro. The rest still has to be paid within 90 days at a 2 percent interest rate.

Strict currency controls in Venezuela have reduced access to hard currency, complicating imports and leading to shortages of basic goods. including medicines, toilet paper, flour, shampoo, spare parts and meat.

Venezuela, once a proud exporter of premium coffee, is also swapping crude oil for growing volumes of Nicaraguan coffee beans.

Maduro said the shortages have been stoked by local opposition politicians and businessmen intent on bringing him down via an "economic war.''