Good news for once

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It’s Holy Week, so in the spirit of reaching out, and finding common ground, a positive story for once: Chinese officials are touring Venezuela’s ports ahead of a major new South-South cooperation drive to facilitate trade.

One of the major obstacles any non-Chávez government will face is Venezuela’s rickety infrastructure. There is simply no way we will be able to establish a democracy without some serious economic and social advancement – and by that, I don’t mean oil-funded handouts that produce ephemeral booms that quickly become busts.

But development is going to require some serious investment in infrastructure. Our roads are in shambles, our electricity grid is barely holding up, and our ports have some of the longest delays in the continent. According to the World Bank, while in Colombia it takes on average 14 days and $1,770 to export a container, in Venezuela it takes 49 days and $2,590. The difference in terms of importing is even wider, with the delays eating up 14 days in Colombia vs. 71 days in Venezuela.

True, some of this is paperwork. But a lot of it is also the infrastructure and management culture in our nation’s ports.

The Chinese know a thing or two about the importance of port infrastructure to turn around an economy. After all, exporting a container from China takes 21 days and a paltry $500. No doubt this low cost is helped by having some of the world’s finest ports, spearheaded by the port of Shanghai, which last year overtook Singapore to become the world’s busiest.

So let’s hope the incompetent, plunderous chavistas that manage what remains of our ports heed the advice of their allies, and we end up with semi-decent, competently-managed ports. Hopefully they won’t just “cooperate” with the Chinese, but let them take the whole ports system over.

We sure could use some nice ports when this nightmare finally ends.

1 COMMENT

  1. Perhaps…perhaps the Chinese do to Venezuela’s port system what they are doing to the Tanzanian railway system. I do not expect them to do what they do to their China. They think about China firstly, secondly and thirdly. They deliver the least they can in view of an overly corrupt country. In Tanzania nationalisation brought the railway system to pot, but then the situation with the Chinese is not much better – just a wee bit – and the price – in copper, loads of copper – is way too much.
    I just saw a BBC programme on that recently and I have got similar reports from Africans AND Chinese about the way the Chinese proceed.

  2. One of the things that gets lost in all of this is how investment in port infrastructure can serve as a catalyst in underserved areas. Imagine small towns like Güiria, or El Batey, or La Vela de Coro, and imagine them receiving an injection of cash to improve port conditions, as well as establishing road networks, logistics infrastructure, etc.

    Should do wonders for the local economies.

    • Does it? What can go wrong? We should be a little bit more cautious at this stage. Not that I think we should close down. We should be much more watchful. What would happen if everything the country does is import toilet paper and nails and food and everything from China and the Chinese will just build enough roads to send their products and send the Chinese workers who have no market in China?

      I put here the video again. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSbZ1wxV87c
      Watch from minute 26

  3. “So let’s hope the incompetent, plunderous chavistas that manage what remains of our ports…”

    Aren’t Venezuela’s ports managed by Cubans?

  4. it’s all drugs!

    But i hope this will benefit the Bolivarian Government no?
    Cause it sure ain’t gonna help El Pueblo Venezolano

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