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Growth in regional iron and steel production Latin American production of iron and steel grew 5.8% in the first months of the year, compared to the same period in 2003, and reached a yield of 26,388,000 metric tons.

According to the report by the International Institute of Steel and Iron(IIAH), the highest growth,72.7%, took place in Uruguay; followed by Paraguay with 44%.

The report indicates that production in both nations is still small compared to that of the other countries in the region; particularly Argentina and Brazil, the other members of the Common Market of the South(Mercosur), and Venezuela.

In fact, these countries are the greatest Latin American producers; Brazil with 18,999,000 metric tons, Argentina with 2.888 million, and Venezuela with 2,277,000.

The report also reveals that Argentina and Ecuador experienced decreases of 0.7% and 2% respectively.

Peru had a 23% increase (452,000 tons), while Colombia was in sixth place with only 445,000.

According to the information, Venezuela registered a 13% increase, while the rises in Brazil, Chile, and Colombia, were 5.5%, 4.8%, and 5% respectively.

The region produced more than Africa(9,481,000 metric tons), the Middle East (9,829,000) and Oceania (4,866,000).

The world iron and steel industry is at a flourishing stage, after years of sluggishness due to an excess of production. Currently, it is unable to meet the demand, with the subsequent price rise.

This recovery is a result of a greater demand from the U.S. and mainly from China. This recuperation is taking place amid negotiations between producing and importing countries over subsidies to the industry throughout the planet, which have been delayed until 2005.

Fourth Guri unit to begin operations this month

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Guri, the greatest hydroelectric plant in the country, built in 1986, is now more efficient with a modernization plan that is 34% completed so far.

Rafael Renaud, coordinator of the plan, informed that of the total 385 million $ estimated for the project -carried out by CVG Electrification of Caroní(Edelca)-, 95 million have been laid out.

The fourth unit under rehabilitation, in machine station II of the Raúl Leoni plant, is expected to be back in operation by the end of this month. Renaud reported that once machine 17 is put under operation, machine 14(whose rehabilitation is being carried out) will follow, thus completing phase one of the project.

Activation of machine 17 seems imminent, since the approval tests on it are already being performed. “The speed tests with no load, as well as the bearing heating test have already been satisfactorily performed”, said Arturo Godoy, manager of the Guri plant division.

The modernization of Guri, to be completed by 2009, includes the substitution of the “blades”- through which the water circulates in order to make the rotor spin- in 14 of the twenty units, informed Renaud. This upgrade will guarantee 5% individual efficiency, which implies a more efficient use of the flow of the Caroní river.

Once the plan is completed, Guri will supply at least 1,700 gigawatts a year. Renaud explained that such an amount of additional energy will be provided in the worst case-a very dry year-, since the abundance of the liquid would guarantee up to 5,000 gigawatts per year.

The program also includes repairs in the overflow channel, and substitution of the instrumentation equipment. All in all, the “blades” on turbines 7,8,9,and 10 in machine station I, and on all turbines on machine station II, will be replaced as well as the “guide blades”. All the components and built-in parts in the turbines will also be replaced.

Venezuela keeps looking southward

The president of the Bank of External Commerce of Venezuela (Bancoex), Víctor Álvarez, affirmed that the country will go on with its strategies of commercial openness towards new markets, especially towards those of the countries that integrate the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) and the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), although he admitted that there are other interesting alternatives in Europe and Asia.

María Luisa Chiapppe, director of the Venezuelan-Colombian Chamber, declared to the international press that “President Chavez’ victory will soon bring positive consequences for commerce with Colombia. Trade of goods and services between both countries will reach 2,080 million dollars this year, much higher than the1,443 million in 2003”.

She affirmed that despite the difficulties, expectations are positive, and that the levels of bilateral trade achieved in 2001(2,456 million $), will be reached shortly.

As for the integration with the South of the continent, the business rounds between Brazil and Venezuela are still in agenda for next September in Manaos.

Governmental decree abolishes the Law of Taxation on Entrepreneurial Assets

The National Government derogated the Law of Taxation on Entrepreneurial Assets, stated in the decree No 3,266, in force since November 1993.

The new decree, that derogates decree No 3,266, will be in force as of September first. As for this tax, the fiscal years still running their course, will close at the moment this decree becomes officially effective.

Upon coming into force, this decree will also derogate all the norms inherent to the determination, liquidation, declaration, and payments related to the last fiscal year under the previous law.

Taxpayers who have acquired the right to make their Tax on Entrepreneurial Assets payments in the form of Income Tax credits, will be able to continue doing so within the terms established in this decree.

Published in Quantum, No 28