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.
Non Tariff Barriers
Some export controls are seldom used. Some mineral resources may be controlled when exported. Re-export of equipment goods is normally not allowed except if the import is temporary. Import licenses are rarely obligatory, but some products are subject to an import license: firearms and explosives require an import license from the Ministry of the Interior. Import certificates are required for certain products subject to special control. All foodstuffs and agricultural imports are subject to obtaining health and phytosanitary certificates to be allowed to be exported. Medicines, food products and cosmetics need to be registered with the Ministry of Health. If alcohol products are imported, a label has to be fixed around the corking system of the bottle. Imported cigarettes must also undergo this procedure.
Import taxes Customs duties are contained between 5 and 20% (there are certain exceptions like private vehicles: 35%). On average: 12%. The tax on wholesale transactions is 16.5% (on CIF price + import duty + Customs charges). In the free zone of Margarita, this duty is applied only to services. The duty on luxury products ranges from 10 to 20% , depending on the product. This duty is calculated on the result of the wholesale tax mentioned above. There is a specific tax for oil products and their derivatives. The import of private second-hand or new vehicles, but not pertaining to the current year, is prohibited except for a private person within the framework of his changing residence, and it is the same for second-hand clothes or used tires. The import of pork meat and its derivatives is prohibited. Within the framework of the WTO, compensatory duties are established on basic agrifood products: milk, certain cheeses, cereals... Dumping duties are applicable to some products such as jeans originating from China.
Observations: The exporter is advised to follow the importer's instructions and for products requiring registration (food products, pharmaceuticals and perfumes), to ensure that the procedures have been carried out before shipping. On the whole, procedures are quite slow and the Venezuelan importer must provide a certain number of documents with the collaboration of the exporter.
To know what import procedures are, see the Commission for Currency Administration:
Samples may not exceed 30 centimeters. Pure chemical products and alcoholic sweets cannot be considered as samples. Samples are exempted from customs duty.
The Venezuelan consumer pays attention to the brand of the product he is buying. Most buyers pay attention to price and make a difference between national and foreign products, whatever the range of the product. We can notice that a lot of consumers prefer to sacrifice quality for a lower price. In this environment, loyalty to a brand fades away before a cheaper product, or one which seems to give better value for money. Today, the consumer tends to plan and prioritize his spending according to importance. He also chooses the outlet which seems to offer him the most promotional advantages.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
Nearly 40% of the population is living under the poverty line. With the economic crisis of the early 2000s, the population's consumer models have changed. The well-off classes make up a permanent breeding-ground; they consume great quantities of electronic and luxury goods. Yet, we must note that during the last few years, household consumption has increased with the return of economic growth. Regarding consumer habits, Venezuelans consume a lot of beer (national), cigarettes, fast food or take-aways. Women go frequently to beauty centers, and buy large quantities of beauty products, accessories and clothes.
The road network is very widespread and a lot of goods transit by truck. Goods travel by plane or by boat from La Guaira, Puerto Cabello or Maracaibo. Basic industrial products pass through Matanzas and Puerto Ordaz. Oil and gas by Amuay, Puerto la Cruz, Punta Cardon, El Tablazo, Bajo Grande and La Salina.
The oil industry, representing 80% of the exports, also represents 50% of fiscal returns and 25% of the total GDP. Despite stagnating production, the prices on the international market are rising in this sector. The concern is however that in the coming years we will see a deterioration of the oil infrastructures: the striking increase of the governmental taxation of oil company PDVSA's profits leaves it with few means to maintain its costly infrastructure or to continue prospecting in areas that are difficult to reach.
The manufacturing sector alone provides 20% of the GDP. This sector is impeded by the lack of private investment. Main productions are iron work and aluminium work, textile and clothing, which have been growing for several years. These are dynamic sectors driven by exports, by the improving productivity and by the restarting of interior consumption. Food preparation is hampered by the growth of imports and by the price control imposed by the government on products of vital need. Cement and automobile industries are dynamic branches and the State encourages investment in this sector.