CARACAS, Venezuela, April 20 (UPI) -- Venezuela has received $5 billion of new "development" financing from China as the South American country faces an economic crisis.
"With the alliance with China, we just received $5 billion of financing for development," Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on state television on Sunday. "We are working on other tranches, I will be informing you when they arrive."
Maduro visited Beijing in January and announced China would invest more than $20 billion in Venezuela. The country has a $5.2 billion principal and interest payment due in October and November.
The drop in the price of oil has furthered the economic problems of Venezuela, which has $20.2 billion in international reserves and owes $20.3 billion in debt due in the coming years.
Venezuela is struggling with the deepest recession in Latin America and record shortages of basic necessities. About 96 percent of export revenues come from Venezuelan oil, which has dropped from $97 a barrel in April last year to $50 a barrel this year. Inflation in 2014 rose to more than 60 percent.
The Venezuelan government recently announced it reduced the amount of money travelers visiting the United States can withdraw from Venezuelan-based banks.
Venezuelans visiting abroad can now receive authorization for $700, down from $2,500, for purchases made in the United States, Aruba, Belize, Colombia and Mexico.
The move is aimed at easing the constant shortage of U.S. currency and is projected to save the Venezuelan government about $2.8 billion in 2015.