Venezuela repays nearly half of $36 bln in Chinese loans

CARACAS Wed Nov 7, 2012 5:27pm EST

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CARACAS Nov 7 (Reuters) - Venezuela has repaid close to half of $36 billion borrowed from China through oil-for-financing agreements, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Wednesday.

The government of President Hugo Chavez has increasingly relied on China for financing because its borrowing costs in international capital markets are among the highest in the world.

"We've received $36 billion through credits with China ... and of that, we've paid $17.9 billion," Ramirez said during a congressional hearing.

A 2007 agreement allowed the Andean nation to borrow $4 billion at a time from China Development Bank, which state oil company PDVSA pays off in oil and fuel. The agreement was expanded this year to $8 billion.

A separate agreement provided a $20 billion credit line, also repayable in oil. Part of those funds are used to buy goods and services from Chinese businesses.

Venezuela and PDVSA last year issued a combined total of almost $18 billion in global bonds. Nearly all of this year's government debt issuance has been local currency bonds sold in the domestic market.

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