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Industry Info

Glencore has the monopoly of aluminum in Venezuela

Glencore, a commodities trading and mining company, purchases a part of the aluminum production earmarked for export. Additionally, through its representatives in Venezuela, the giant firm buys a portion of the products the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG) has to sell in the domestic market pursuant to the law.

Glencore, one of the global giants in commodities trading, buys Venezuelan aluminum in dollars but also in Venezuelan bolivars, at the official exchange rate, the most favorable. How does it do it? Glencore's representatives in Venezuela buy most of the aluminum the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG) produces for the foreign market. In parallel, the firm also purchases a part of the products the Venezuelan government has to sell, pursuant to the law, in the domestic market, only to companies registered in the country, and at the official exchange rate.

Some Glencore representatives in Venezuela are simultaneously officers of other private firms buying products from state-run companies Bauxilum, Venalum and Alcasa, among other Venezuelan basic industries. In this way, the executive officers of Venezuelan private companies Extrudal, Trefymaca, Alambres del Yaracuy and Armco are the same people who, three years ago and on behalf of the Swiss multinational, renewed futures contracts under which they secured purchase of Venezuela's aluminum production during recent years.

Further, they are officers of Alloys Metals, a company recorded in the files of the Scientific, Criminal and Forensic Investigation Agency (Cicpc) four years ago in connection with a thwarted attempt at smuggling 2,063 tons of aluminum via the Palúa dock of CVG on the Orinoco River.

The name of Glencore has aroused great controversy since it monopolizes aluminum exports through Noble Resources. "The aluminum industry has been mortgaged," said Alcasa union leader Henry Arias in 2010. "We are concerned about the monopoly and likely premium prices in these deals," warned José Luis Morocoima, a leader of Bauxilum trade union.

Even back on May 16, 2010, then President Hugo Chávez held a meeting with workers at the CVG where attendees chanted slogans against Glencore.

Glencore is not new in either the area or industry, but in recent years, it entered into major agreements with the Venezuelan State, which has tipped the scale in its favor somehow. For example, officers of Glencore representatives are also shareholders of domestic companies operating in the domestic market of aluminum.
A foreign power

Andrés Velásquez, an opposition deputy for the state of Bolívar, on 20 August requested with the Attorney General's Office an investigation into Glencore contracts. Last week, the Accountability Committee, National Assembly, vowed to assess Glencore businesses in Venezuela.

None of Glencore's futures contracts was previously examined by the Venezuelan Comptroller's Office or the relevant committees in the National Assembly. There was not even a public call for bids, and the agreements even included confidentiality clauses.
Glencore has assets in 30 countries worldwide. Spanish daily ABC in 2011 termed Glencore a kind of global power surrounded by more questions than answers. The Swiss multinational has had impasses around the world: from the United States, where it has been accused of tightening trade ties with Iran, to Bolivia, where it has been hit by President Evo Morales' expropriation policy. But in Venezuela, until further notice, things have gone better for Glencore. It operates at ease and even pays in both dollars and bolivars.

Source: El Universal