MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Venezuela began publishing prices for its oil in Chinese yuan in a bid to avoid the US dollar and counter US sanctions, the country's President Nicolas Maduro said.
"We are already pricing [oil] in Chinese yuan… because of the sanctions which were facilitated by [opposition politician] Julio Borges and which were adopted by [US President] Donald Trump. They have caused great damage… And we are forced to defend ourselves," Maduro said Friday in an announcement aired by the TV network Telesur.
Maduro has already said in the past that Venezuela was going to free itself from the "vice of dollar."
The US sanctions came in response to a vote to appoint members of a National Constituent Assembly which would replace the 1999 constitution drafted under Maduro's predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez. Critics pointed out that only approximately 2/3 of the assembly members would be chosen by the people of Venezuela; the others would be hand-picked by labor unions and other groups considered loyal to Maduro and his fellow socialists.
Chinese oil industry analysts argued that it was unlikely the US government would impose a completely ban on oil imports from Venezuela.
Venezuela is the third largest crude oil supplier to the United States, accounting for 8 percent of total US imports in 2016, official figures from the US Energy Information Agency showed.
The country has been in turmoil since April, with months of protest and the international community repeatedly expressing concern. The popular unrest has been fueled by the government's response to low oil prices, which has included efforts to fix the value of the currency, resulting in long lines, failed businesses and empty shelves.