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||2020||2021||2022 (E)||2023 (E)||2024 (E)|
|GDP (billions USD)||43.79||57.15||93.11||96.63||100.63|
|GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)||-30.0||0.5||8.0||5.0||4.5|
|GDP per Capita (USD)||1,567||2,072||3,459||3,641||3,803|
|General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)||327.7||250.6||157.8||0.0||0.0|
|Inflation Rate (%)||2.0||1.0||200.9||400.0||200.0|
|Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0|
|Current Account (billions USD)||-1.53||-0.62||3.23||4.83||5.56|
|Current Account (in % of GDP)||-3.5||-1.1||3.5||5.0||5.5|
Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data
Note: (e) Estimated Data
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.
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|Venezuelan Bolivar (VEF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
- Latest available data.
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The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.
The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.
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 Indicators||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021|
|Imports of Goods (million USD)||10,510||11,710||5,870||6,590||7,770|
|Exports of Goods (million USD)||32,540||34,440||17,210||4,980||3,575|
|Imports of Services (million USD)||0||6,884||0||0||0|
|Exports of Services (million USD)||0||772||0||0||0|
Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data
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|0.8 bn USD of services exported in 2018|
|Sea transportSea transport||34.71%|
|Air transportAir transport||9.40%|
|Personal travelPersonal travel||21.93%|
|Health-related expenditureHealth-related expenditure||0.50%|
|Education-related expenditureEducation-related expenditure||0.25%|
|Business travelBusiness travel||9.65%|
|Telecommunications servicesTelecommunications services||7.39%|
|Postal and courier servicesPostal and courier services||4.39%|
|Miscellaneous business,...Miscellaneous business, professional, and technical services||7.14%|
|Architectural, engineering,...Architectural, engineering, and other technical services||5.89%|
|Other business servicesOther business services||1.25%|
|Computer servicesComputer services||0.75%|
|Audiovisual and related servicesAudiovisual and related services||0.50%|
|Military units and agenciesMilitary units and agencies||1.63%|
|Embassies and consulatesEmbassies and consulates||0.75%|
|7.3 bn USD of services imported in 2018|
|Other personal, cultural, and...Other personal, cultural, and recreational services||29.21%|
|Health servicesHealth services||27.60%|
|Education servicesEducation services||1.26%|
|Audiovisual and related servicesAudiovisual and related services||0.19%|
|Embassies and consulatesEmbassies and consulates||1.70%|
|Military units and agenciesMilitary units and agencies||1.28%|
|Sea transportSea transport||14.42%|
|Air transportAir transport||10.91%|
|Miscellaneous business,...Miscellaneous business, professional, and technical services||10.03%|
|Architectural, engineering,...Architectural, engineering, and other technical services||4.88%|
|Legal, accounting, management...Legal, accounting, management consulting, and public relations||2.89%|
|Legal servicesLegal services||1.54%|
|Business and management...Business and management consulting and public relations services||1.18%|
|Accounting, auditing,...Accounting, auditing, bookkeeping, and tax consulting services||0.18%|
|Other business servicesOther business services||2.21%|
|Agricultural, mining, and...Agricultural, mining, and on-site processing services||0.04%|
|Operational leasing servicesOperational leasing services||6.17%|
|Personal travelPersonal travel||10.26%|
|Health-related expenditureHealth-related expenditure||0.69%|
|Education-related expenditureEducation-related expenditure||0.51%|
|Business travelBusiness travel||3.51%|
|Freight insuranceFreight insurance||1.15%|
|Telecommunications servicesTelecommunications services||2.20%|
|Postal and courier servicesPostal and courier services||0.48%|
|Computer servicesComputer services||0.75%|
Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data
- 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
The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).
The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.
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