Shanti Agro IndustriesVenezuela (South American country) has stopped buying much of rice from Guyana amid an escalating border dispute between the South American neighbors said Guyanese finance minister, Winston Jordan.

The dispute between the two countries is over the boundary line which was drawn between the two country’s boundaries in the year 1899 but Venezuela has long refused to recognize the boundary line and it claims about two-thirds of Guyana’s territory as its own. Venezuela published a new map in May that expanded its maritime territory to essentially leave Guyana landlocked.

According to Jordan, Venezuelan officials have informed him that they will switch their rice buying to other suppliers, including Suriname by the end of this year, during his visit to Caracas.

Venezuela and Guyana has a bilateral trade with each other. In past four years, Venezuela has purchased around 40% of Guyana’s rice production or about 200,000 tons by paying it with oil that amounts to half of the Guyana’s daily oil needs.

The exchange of rice for oil is done under the Petrocaribe program. The program was initiated by Venezuela. Venezuela used to provide fuel to Caribbean and Central American countries at reasonable prices. Guyana was also one of the member countries under Petrocaribe program and will continue to buy oil from Venezuela, Jordan said.

The reasons for Venezuela’s decision not to continuing rice purchase was not yet disclosed but the long-running border dispute has been heating up following the recent disclosure of a major oil discovery off Guyana in waters that Venezuela also claims.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that he will recall the Venezuelan ambassador in Guyana to have his consultation on the issue and to rebuild relationship between two countries.

Guyana’s president, David Granger told the parliament that his government does not have enough military to challenge the Venezuela’s military, hence they will seek an international judicial settlement over the border issue.

A retired army general, Granger said that “Guyana has never used aggression against any state”, but at same time they will not allow anyone to violate and threatened their territorial integrity.

Mr. Jordan said that Venezuela did not rule out future purchases of rice. He also said that Venezuela had previously informed Guyanese officials of the plans to discontinue the bulk purchase of rice but the government of President Donald Ramotar, which lost May elections, did not disclose the information.

 

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