Venezuela's economy shrank 16.5 percent in 2016: government

FILE PHOTO: A woman counts Venezuelan bolivar notes at a vegetable street market in Caracas, Venezuela November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s economy shrank 16.5 percent in 2016, the government said on Thursday, as the oil-dependent nation continued to slump as a result of weak crude prices.

Venezuela’s government, as part of an annual 18K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said the oil sector, the main source of foreign currency in the South American nation, contracted 9.9 percent, while the non-oil economy decreased by 16.1 percent.

The 18K SEC filings are made by foreign governments related to domestically traded foreign securities and their issuer.

The central bank has not released Venezuela’s gross domestic product data since 2015, when the economy fell 6.2 percent.

President Nicolas Maduro’s government blames the dismal situation on an “economic war” led by political adversaries with the help of the United States.

His opponents say the economic collapse is a direct result of 18 years of state-led socialist policies implemented by Maduro and his late predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

The government reported inflation rose 274.4 percent in 2016, topping the 180.9 percent it registered in 2015 and among the highest in the world.

Reporting by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas; Writing by Helen Murphy in Bogota; Editing by Leslie Adler