Exports to one of Florida's top trading partners, Venezuela, are likely to keep sinking after the South American nation devalued its currency by as much as 50 percent in a bid to rein in a budget deficit and bolster its national industries amid depressed oil prices and a struggling economy.
The move punishes many U.S. exports to Venezuela at a time when South Florida is counting on revived international trade to fuel its recovery.
Under the new, two-tiered exchange rate announced Friday, Venezuela set the bolivar at 4.3 to the dollar for non-essential items and 2.6 to the dollar for food, medical supplies and other national priorities. Before the change -- the nation's first devaluation since 2005 -- the bolivar was pegged at 2.15 to the dollar across the board.
In essence, the move doubled the price of many U.S. goods overnight.
Gilberto Santos is the export manager for HeavyPartsDepot.com, a Miami company that supplies replacement parts for construction equipment and other heavy machinery.
Santos said his firm was already operating on razor-thin margins and could not afford to cut costs for his Venezuelan customers.
"It's going to make spare parts more expensive there, but people will simply have to pay," he said. "Construction equipment is not like a car, you can't afford to let a machine quit, because you stop making money."
The move was not unexpected. Rumors had been swirling for months that the government was going to let the currency slide.
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