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Venezuela's construction sector 95% inoperative: trade body

Sao Paulo — The Venezuelan construction sector is around 95% inoperative due to the lack of rebar, investment and interested buyers for housing, the Venezuelan Chamber of Construction (CVC) said Wednesday.

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According to the CVC's president Juan Andres Sosa, the sector reports "inoperability close to 95%."

"What is currently operating in the sector is only maintenance, not new works," Sosa added.

The main reason for the stoppage is the lack of rebar and other materials for the sector. According to sources, the two main steel producers in the country have been offline most of 2018 and are not supplying rebar or wire rod to the construction sector.

Roughly 50% of Venezuela's rebar market is supplied by Sidor, 40% by Complejo Siderurgico Nacional and 10% by private company Gerdau Sizuca.

Venezuela's largest steelmaker, Sidor, hasn't operated since August with no timetable to resume production.

The country's state-owned steelworks CSN hasn't produced steel since July 2017 and a restart of operations was postponed several times during 2018. No future date for a restart is available.

CSN's Casima plant has been completely stopped since July 2017. It is responsible for over 70% of all semi products destined for other plants for rolling into rebar and other long products.

Last production at the Casima plant was around 10,000 mt of billets in the first half of 2017. Its installed capacity is around 450,000 mt/year.

Imports of these construction steels are not an option due to unfavorable exchange rates generated by extreme inflation and political and economic instability.

Producers allocate most of their rebar output for Venezuela's Gran Mision Vivienda Venezuela housing program, while the sector relies on a minimum availability of the product or imports.

Another factor that influences the negative performance of construction is the limited purchasing power of Venezuelans.

The Gran Mision Vivienda Venezuela program has a goal of constructing over 2.5 million affordable houses for the country's population, but has not yet achieved the building of 400,000 units due to the lack of resources, according to the CVC.

-- Guilherme Baida,

-- Edited by Jonathan Loades-Carter,