Venezuela will increase its oil exports to China to one million barrels a day, President Nicolas Maduro has said, following a visit to Beijing.
Already a strong economic partner, China had agreed to invest an additional $5bn in Venezuela, Maduro said on Tuesday, adding that the investment would help it boost production and nearly double its oil exports to China.
“We are taking the first steps into a new economic era,” he said, as cited by AP news agency. “We are on track to have a new economy, and the agreements with China will strengthen it.”
Maduro spent two days in China last week, welcomed by counterpart Xi Jinping, and attended meetings at the China Development Bank and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).
Venezuela has already received more than $60bn in credit from Beijing over the last decade but still owes about $20bn and has been repaying the debt with oil shipments.
Speaking to foreign media, Maduro said CNPC president Zhang Jianhua will visit Venezuela on Thursday to finalize “the investment they’re going to make.”
China eased Venezuela’s debt repayment conditions in 2016 while the South American country was gripped by an economic crisis.
Maduro refused to comment on whether those conditions had been extended during negotiations with China.
“Venezuela pays its debts on time, it’s shown in the most difficult moments it’s ability to respond to its Chinese commitments,” he said.
On Twitter, the president said both countries signed a total of 28 agreements, adding to the more than 700 development projects in various fields.
Venezuela’s economy has deteriorated rapidly in recent years, with inflation expected to reach one million percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Citizens face food and medicine shortages while public services such as transport, electricity and water have been hit by failures.
Millions of Venezuelans have fled the country since the economy entered a recession four years ago.
The crisis began after a 2014 crash in the price of oil, which accounts for 96 percent of Venezuela’s revenue, causing shortages of foreign capital that was exacerbated by the government printing money.
Oil production has dropped to a 30-year low of just 1.4 million barrels per day in August, according to the Organization of Oil Producing Countries, from a record high of 3.2 million 10 years ago.