Venezuela Moves WTO to Salvage Petro from US Sanctions

The Venezuelan government has alleged that the United States has breached Venezuela’s rights under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). And to salvage its cryptocurrency, Petro, from US sanctions, the Venezuelan government has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The complaint states that “the US has imposed certain coercive trade-restrictive measures on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the context of attempts to isolate Venezuela economically.” As per various media reports, the United States President Donald Trump, in March 2018 had signed an executive order forbidding the US citizens from connecting with the Venezuelan government through digital currencies. According to Ethnews, the order stated “all transactions related to the provision of financing for and other dealing in, by a US person or within the US, any digital currency, digital coin or digital token, that was issued by, for, or on behalf of the Government of Venezuela on or after January 9, 2018 are prohibited.”

The Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had introduced Petro in 2017 which was formally launched in 2018 as the national cryptocurrency. Experts say the state’s oil resources back the Petro. Meanwhile, the United States sees this digital currency as a means to evade the international sanctions. The Venezuelan government in its complaint to the WTO highlighted that digital currencies that originated in the US are not subjected to the same prohibitions as Petro and Venezuela’s other cryptocurrencies. “The US is according less favorable treatment to Venezuelan financial services and service suppliers than to like domestic financial services and service suppliers.”

According to Reuters, Washington imposed sanctions on a Venezuelan currency exchange on Tuesday. The US Treasury alleged that the exchange had siphoned billions of dollars to bribe government insiders. The United States hasn’t given an official statement. It has 60 days to respond to the complaint.

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