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Venezuela Pushes Back Against US Sanctions On Their National Cryptocurrency Petro

Earlier this week the US imposed sanctions that target a Venezuelan currency exchange network scheme that siphoned off billions of dollars to corrupt insiders of the Venezuelan government.

The U.S. Treasury said the individuals used favorable foreign exchange transactions through brokerage firms controlled by television mogul Raul Gorrin and were among the very few deals that were approved by Venezuela's treasury. This was just the latest of a range of sanctions on the country, some of which has been on Petro.

Petro was announced as the national cryptocurrency by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro backed by the nations oil reserves. Following the launch, the President of the United States, Donald Trump prohibited American citizens from investing in it by claiming that it was designed to avoid United States sanctions.

Venezuela Pushes Back Against The Sanctions

Now, Venezuela is retaliating against the sanctions before the World Trade Organization. They filed a complaint last month.

It claims that certain US laws and regulations relating to goods of Venezuelan origin, the liquidity of Venezuelan public debt, transactions in Venezuelan digital currency, and the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List are inconsistent with the WTO's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

Particularly on digital currencies, their complaint reads:

“The coercive trade-restrictive measures of the United States to which Venezuelan financial services and financial service suppliers are subject, under which suppliers receive treatment less favorable than that accorded to like services and service suppliers of the WTO Member States not subject to the measures, are in violation of Article II:1 of the GATS. Furthermore, inasmuch as digital currencies originating in the United States are not subject to the same prohibitions as Venezuelan digital currencies, the United States is according less favorable treatment to Venezuelan financial services and service suppliers than to like domestic financial services and service suppliers, in violation of Article XVII:1 of the GATS.”

What Happens Now?

The request for consultations formally initiates a dispute in the WTO. Consultations give the parties an opportunity to discuss the matter and to find a satisfactory solution without proceeding further with litigation. After 60 days, if consultations have failed to resolve the dispute, the complainant may request adjudication by a panel.

The influence of the US on the WTO is massive. It mostly looks like that complaint might be overlooked. However, the US has 60 days to respond to these complaints.

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