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Economic Overview

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Endowed with the largest oil reserves in the world, Venezuela is largely dependent on fluctuations of oil prices. The country had a 6% growth of GDP in 2022, due to the increase in oil prices and the recovery in the level of remittances sent to the country by Venezuelans abroad. According to the IMF, the country should record a growth of 6.5% for 2023 and 0% in 2024. The country has been in a deep recession since 2013 and, according to the IMF, Venezuela’s GDP contracted more between 2013 and 2018 than the United States did during the Great Depression of 1929-1933.The GDP per capita nearly halved between 2019 and 2021, going from USD 2,299 to USD 1,627, and should continue down the same trajectory in the short term.

The country's industrial activity continues to suffer from insufficient diversification and difficulties to import intermediate products. The policy of redistribution of the petroleum through social measures was impeached by the weakness of the oil prices, in strong decline since 2012. This reinforced the macro-economic imbalances that Venezuela suffers from. According to the Central Bank of Venezuela, the country's hyperinflation went from 686.4% in 2021 to 210% in 2022, demonstrating a deceleration of consumer price growth thanks to inflation control measures but in place by the government, which include the restriction of credit and lower spending in bolivars to maintain the stability of the exchange rate. The hyper-inflationary climate was created by several years of monetising the public deficit, a free-falling currency that makes imports more expensive, a strong depreciation of the currency in both the official and black markets and dramatic shortages of basic goods. The central bank’s policy of reducing the money supply is not expected to help reduce hyperinflation sustainably, as it does not address the economy’s key imbalances. Despite multiple minimum wage hikes decided by the government, real wages have been continuously decreasing, and household consumption is highly dependent on remittances from expatriates. As a result, growth in the host countries of Venezuelan expatriates, such as Colombia, Spain, the United States, increased remittance flows in 2022, supporting some recovery in household consumption. According to the latest available data from the IMF, public debt rose stood at 240.5% of the GDP in 2021. While the government has implemented a series of fiscal measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, the country was already facing significant social and economic issues before, so the impact of COVID-19 on Venezuela compounded on preexisting issues of economic instability, and health and food insecurity and recovery has been slow.

In Venezuela, even though minimum wage has been increased numerous times over the past few years, wage increases have not been following inflation. Therefore, purchasing power is weak and has greatly decreased in recent years; poverty has increased and the health system is in critical state. The unemployment rate has been rising for years, and the IMF estimated that this rate has surpassed half of the Venezuelan workforce. Nevertheless, the state has not released an official unemployment figure since 2016, when it claimed it was 7.3%. Furthermore, the country also faces a rise of insecurity, with the highest homicide rate in South America. Because of the country's current economic situation, there are severe shortages of basic goods, such as food and medicine - with Venezuela being among the countries with the highest rates of food insecurity in the world. As such, neighbouring countries have been receiving a large number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in recent years, with estimates suggesting that over 6 million people have left the country so far.

Main Indicators 202020212022 (E)2023 (E)2024 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 43.7957.1593.1196.63100.63
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -
GDP per Capita (USD) 1,5672,0723,4593,6413,803
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 327.7250.6157.80.00.0
Inflation Rate (%) 2.01.0200.9400.0200.0
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD) -1.53-0.623.234.835.56
Current Account (in % of GDP) -3.5-

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , October 2021

Country Risk

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Main Sectors of Industry

Compared to other Latin nations, Agriculture has a smaller contribution to Venezuela's economy. The agricultural sector represents 5% of the Venezuelan GDP and employs 7.9% of the active population. The main agricultural products of the country are corn, soy, sugar cane, rice, cotton, bananas, vegetables, coffee, cocoa, beef and pork meat, milk, eggs and fish. However, Venezuela enjoys important natural resources, such as petroleum (their main natural resource), gas, gold and silver mines, bauxite, and diamonds. According to the OPEC, the country’s proved resources in petroleum would reach 302,809 million of barrels which puts it at the first place in the world in front of Saudi Arabia. Actually, despite a continuous decline of the petroleum production for the past few years, Venezuela remains largely dependent on revenue from petroleum, which accounts for nearly all of its earnings from exportation and for almost half of the government’s revenue. In 2022, the country agricultural production increased, especially that of corn, rice, and coffee.

The industrial sector represents 37.2% of the GDP and employs 15.3% of the active population. The main industrial activities revolve around the petroleum sector - which is controlled by a State company, and represents the first natural wealth of the country. Additionally, other important industries are construction equipment, food, textile, iron, steel, aluminium and engine parts assembly. However, due to the State control over the country's currency and prices, local industries have encountered difficulties to acquire the necessary goods to maintain operations or to sell goods with profit on the local market. Still, 2022 saw a positive performance of the industrial sector, mainly led by machinery, chemicals, metal, plastic, textile, leather, and food production.

The service sector represents 51.7% of the GDP and employs 76.8% of the active population, making it a major source of revenue and jobs. The sector includes banking and finance, real estate, education, medicine, governmental agencies, hotels and restaurants, as well as entertainment. Together, these activities represent more than two thirds of the total employment in Venezuela. Although the COVID-19 crisis negatively impacted the Venezuelan economy as a whole, the services sector was hit the hardest, and it's still feeling the impacts of the pandemic.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 7.9 15.3 76.8
Value Added (in % of GDP) 5.0 37.2 51.7
Value Added (Annual % Change) -4.6 -5.8 -0.4

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Venezuelan Bolivar (VEF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD n/an/an/an/an/a

- Latest available data.



Foreign Trade

According to the latest available data, Venezuela’s foreign trade represented 67.2% of the GDP in 2017. The country’s economy is strongly depending on hydrocarbons, as well as on loans from China and Russia. Traditionally, petroleum represents more than 85% of Venezuela’s exports. Other exports include acyclic alcohols (2.2%), iron reductions (1%), gold (1.5%), crustaceans (0.9%), and hard liquor (0.4%). The country mainly imports refined petroleum (16.8%), rice (4.3%), corn (3.5%), wheat (2%), and medicaments (2%). According to IMF Foreign Trade Forecasts, the volume of exports of goods and services fell by an estimated 20.8% in 2021, while the volume of imports of goods and services declined by an estimated 5.3%.

Venezuela’s main trade partners are the United States, China, India, Mexico, Turkey, and Brazil. The United States remains the main petroleum customer. The country purchases petroleum at the market price and constitutes, consequently, Venezuela's first source of currency. Venezuela is a member of the Latin American Integration Association as well as the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries, and is looking to improve and increase its trade relations with the South-American zone, the EU and China. However, even though Venezuela entered Mercosur in 2012 in order to develop trade with its neighbours, its membership indefinitely suspended in 2017 because the country was infringing on the democratic clauses of the treaty.

According to the WTO, the country imported  USD 7.7 billion of goods in 2021 and exported USD 3.5 billion of goods over the same period, resulting on a negative trade balance of USD 4.2 billion. However, even though the amount of exports was significant in 2021, they have decreased by over 85% since 2018, notably due to the fall of petroleum prices and lower global demand brought on by the pandemic.

Foreign Trade Values 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 10,51011,7105,8706,5907,770
Exports of Goods (million USD) 32,54034,44017,2104,9803,575
Imports of Services (million USD) 06,884000
Exports of Services (million USD) 0772000

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 50.454.348.1n/an/a
Trade Balance (million USD) 31,95631,59827,4493,95611,061
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 14,68814,52912,551-8,2352,874
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 24.4-9.7-18.5n/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1.6-6.2-4.7n/an/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 24.229.531.4n/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 26.224.816.7n/an/a

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20222023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 31.610.613.20.00.0
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change)

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

International Economic Cooperation
Venezuela is part of the WTO, the World Bank, the CEPALC: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the ALADI: Latin American Integration Association, the MCCA (CACM): Central American Common Market. It has signed the Promotion and Protection of Investment Agreement of 1993, and is a partner of MERCOSUR. The country withdrew from the Andean Community, which brings together several countries of the Southern Cone, in 2006.


Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Nicolás Maduro (since 19 April, 2013). However, his presidency has been disputed since 10 January, 2019
Executive Vice President: Delcy Rodriguez (since 18 June, 2018)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: 2024
National Assembly: 2025
Main Political Parties
Venezuela has a multi-party system, where single parties rarely have the opportunity to secure power alone. Therefore, parties generally work together to form coalition governments. Yet, the Government also attempts to restrict the power of opposition groups and its allies. The government parties in the country are:

- United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV): left-wing, socialist, maintains an overwhelming majority in the parliament
- Fatherland for All (PPT): left-wing, democratic socialist, libertarian Marxist
- Revolutionary Movement Tupamaro (MRT): far-left, communist, Marxist-Leninist, Guevarist
- Movement We Are Venezuela (MSV): left-wing, Chavista, socialist, anti-imperialism
- For Social Democracy (PODEMOS): centre-left to left-wing, social democratic
- Alliance for Change (APC): centre-left, social democratic, democratic socialist
- People's Electoral Movement (MEP): left-wing, socialist, nationalist
- Authentic Renewal Organisation (ORA): syncretic politics, Christian socialist, evangelical, conservative
- Venezuelan Popular Unity (UPV): left-wing, Bolivarian, communist, socialist

Other parties include:
- Justice First (PJ): centre to centre-left, progressivism and humanism
- Democratic Action (AD): centre-left, social democracy, Venezuelan democracy
- A New Era (UNT): centre-left, social democracy, reformism
- Popular Will (VP): centre-left, big tent, social democracy, market liberalism
- Radical Cause (LCR): centre-left, labourism, democratic socialism
- Progressive Advance (AP): centre-left, social democracy, progressivism, federalism
- Project Venezuela (ProVen): centre-right, Christian democracy, liberal conservatism
- Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV): far-left, fuelled by Marxist–Leninist ideals

Executive Power
The President is both the Chief of State and the Head of the Government, and is elected by popular vote for a six-year term, renewable indefinitely. The President has executive power, appoints the Vice-President, decides on the size and composition of the cabinet, and makes appointments to it with the involvement of the parliament.
Legislative Power
The legislature is unicameral in Venezuela. The parliament, called National Assembly, made up of a variable number of members (277 seats currently) elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms. Three seats are reserved for the indigenous peoples of Venezuela. Legislative power is vested only in the National Assembly. The President has the power to veto acts of the National Assembly which, in turn, a simple majority of the Assembly can override. However, the President can also dissolve the National Assembly under certain conditions.


COVID-19 Country Response

COVID-19 epidemic evolution
To find out about the latest status of the COVID19 pandemic evolution and the most up-to-date statistics on the COVID19 disease in Venezuela, please visit the Ministry of Health with the official data. Official information on the progress of the epidemic in Venezuela is consolidated by the government platform. The site provides a daily epidemiological update, which includes key national figures.
For the international outlook you can consult the latest situation reports published by the World Health Organisation as well as the global daily statistics on the coronavirus pandemic evolution including data on confirmed cases and deaths by country.
Sanitary measures
To find out about the latest public health situation in Venezuela and the current sanitary measures in vigour, please consult the Venezuelan government website including the up-to-date information on the containment measures put in place and public health recommendations.
Travel restrictions
The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new variants, evolves rapidly and differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. Regularly updated information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related travel restrictions in place including entry regulations, flight bans, test requirements and quarantine is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
It is also highly recommended to consult COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on the daily basis by IATA.
The US government website of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention provides COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.

The UK Foreign travel advice also provides travelling abroad advice for all countries, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.
Import & export restrictions
For the information on all the measures applicable to movement of goods during the period of sanitary emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak (including eventual restrictions on imports and exports, if applicable), please consult the portal of the Integrated National Service of Customs and Tax Administration (SENIAT).
For a general overview of trade restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Venezuela on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the information on the economic recovery scheme put in place by the Venezuelan government to address the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the Venezuelan economy, please visit the website of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The information on the Venezuelan economic emergency plan is available here.

For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) taken by the Venezuelan government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Venezuela in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For the information on the local business support scheme established by the Venezuelan government to help small and medium-sized companies to deal with the economic impacts of the COVID19 epidemic on their activity, please consult the portal of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Economic Policy Response to Covid-19, and the Official Gazette on the Ministry of Communication and Information.

For a general overview of international SME support policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak refer to the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

Support plan for exporters
To find out about the support plan for exporters put in place by the Venezuelan government, please consult the support plan for Venezuelan exporting companies available on the Ministry of the Venezuelan Vice President website.