Cold response from Venezuela to India’s plan of oil for drugs

The Indian government has been trying to push the oil-for-drugs barter plan for months now, similar to the one it worked out with Iran


Industry body Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharexcil) has estimated the total money stuck in Venezuela at Rs2,000 crore. Photo: Reuters
Industry body Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharexcil) has estimated the total money stuck in Venezuela at Rs2,000 crore. Photo: Reuters

Hyderabad: India’s oil-for-drugs barter plan with cash-strapped Venezuela to help recover millions of dollars in payments owed to some of India’s top drug makers has failed to draw a response from the Latin American nation, a senior government official said on Thursday.

India has shared a draft proposal with the concerned parties such as Venezuelan government, the concerned banking institutions of Venezuela and affected companies but they are awaiting a response from Venezuela, Anice Joseph Chandra, a director at the ministry of commerce and industry said.

The government has been trying to push the oil-for-drugs barter plan for months now, similar to the one it worked out with Iran when the West Asian country was facing economic sanctions from Western nations.

“Unfortunately the situation in Venezuela is going from bad to worse because of which the response from them is taking time,” she said.

Chandra said the government is in constant touch with the Venezuelan embassy and is hopeful of a solution.

“It’s as much as loss to them as to us. Ours is a business loss; for them it is question of life,” she said.

Industry body Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharexcil) has estimated the total money stuck in Venezuela at Rs2,000 crore.

Several of India’s generics companies, including the country’s second-largest drug maker Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, are struggling to repatriate money out the Latin American country.

Venezuela, Dr.Reddy’s fourth-largest market by sales at $136 million in fiscal year 2015, has turned out to be a nightmare due to restrictions imposed by the Latin American country on transferring money out after it ran short of foreign exchange due to a slump in crude oil prices and a worsening economy.

The company didn’t book any revenues from Venezuela in the first quarter.

Dr.Reddy’s wrote off $65 million in the March quarter, which it said was almost all the money it was owed from Venezuela. Around $50 million of Glenmark is stuck.

“We are hoping that the government’s efforts will help us recoup our cash in Venezuela,” said Glenn Saldanha, chairman and managing director of Glenmark.

Venezuela’s socialist economy is in free fall amid a slump in oil prices that triggered triple-digit inflation and a full-blown political and financial crisis. The country is facing severe shortages of essential items such as food and medicine.

Chandra said Indian companies who are exporting drugs to important emerging market like Nigeria and Russia have started facing problems of repatriation there too.

We are in constant touch with these countries as well, she said.

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