Caracas — Despite the fact that the economic outlook for the first half of 2023 for Venezuela is not bright, a little more than half of the business leaders that attended the Economic Outlook forum organized by the Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Venamcham) say the situation will be fair to good with improved business activity in the second half of the year.
“All our eggs are in one basket” was a common refrain among those present after the presentation by the first speaker, Eduardo Fortuny, an engineer and director of Dinámica Venezuela, who insisted on a possibly optimistic scenario after June.
The probability of business growth, but which is not necessarily related to a positive scenario for the whole country, is perceived by business leaders with both local and international capital, and who have been making strategic moves in the country since last year.
In the survey presented by Venamcham, this perspective is reflected with 52.27% of the companies stating that commercial activity could change from fair to good throughout 2023, while only 15.91% think the opposite.
It is also noteworthy that 42.20% of those consulted suggest that innovation will be one of the main opportunities this year, while 26.59% believe there will be economic growth, and 17.34% believe that the increase in demand will also benefit them.
In addition, 50.28% of the companies interviewed, which are divided into 73.54% with Venezuelan capital, 14.29% with US capital and 8.99% with capital from other countries, maintain that the economic situation of their sector for this year will be “fair to good”. However, 15.82% maintain their position that the situation will be “fair to bad”.
There is a crossroads of economic transition, as Fortuny described it, in which the continuity of the status quo applied so far by the state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is seen, or a new process of privatization of the industry with the participation of Chevron Corp, which now has a license extended by the United States for its operations in the country.
This will contribute, according to Fortuny’s evaluation, with greater volumes of foreign currency entering the country during the first three months of the year as part of the agreements established between PDVSA and the US company, which in spite of the distrust and after starting with a cautious shipment of tankers, could begin to show greater signs of stability.
The estimates for the end of the year regarding GDP growth , which in 2022 experienced a significant but uneven rebound, with 17%, remain low, at 5.43% for November 2023.
The economic slowdown is considered one of the main challenges for businesses in the country, with 65.32% of those consulted identifying that factor, while 60.12% said they are worried about economic uncertainty, and 40.46% are concerned about rising inflation.
The country’s tax on large financial transactions (IGTF), for which a partial reform will be proposed almost a year after its entry into force, was cited by companies as another negative factor, and which raised the tax burden, according to 30.29% of respondents.