Venezuela Fights US Sanctions Against Petro

Nuno Teodoro

The Venezuelan government has filed a complaint against the United States before the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The complaint was published on January 8, but had already been filed last month. The document shows that the United States government is being accused of infringing Venezuela’s rights under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

According to Reuters, the United States have been tightening sanctions against the Venezuelan government in the recent months. This includes banning sales of Venezuelan gold, discriminatory treatment of Venezuela’s debt, and also “targeting senior officials and Maduro’s wife and allies”.

Petro

There is also a reference to Petro, the national cryptocurrency of Venezuela. According to the document, the US has imposed “discriminatory coercive trade-restrictive measures with respect to transactions in Venezuelan digital currency”. The complaint also reads:

Furthermore, in as much as digital currencies originating in the United States are not subject to the same prohibitions as Venezuelan digital currencies, the United States is according less favourable treatment to Venezuelan financial services and service suppliers than to like domestic financial services and service suppliers.

The US restrictions may come as no surprise, especially since Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro also intends to enforce his own restrictions. Last month, Maduro stated on national television that in 2019 a new program will be put into place, where gradually all Venezuelan oil products will be sold in Petro.

The U.S. hasn’t issued an official response yet. The nation has 60 days to respond to the complaint and if they fail to do so, Venezuela can ask the WTO to decide on the complaint’s merits.

Petro Yet to Be Seen

Despite its announcement in late  2017 and having been officially launched three times , no one has yet been able to use the Petro. Although the Petro is many times referred to as the first nation-backed cryptocurrency, it is yet to produce a working product.