Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila met with Venezuela's ambassador to the United States on Thursday for an opening round of talks they said could one day lead to Puerto Rico buying oil from the South American country under preferential terms.
Puerto Rico's government has expressed interest in joining the Petrocaribe initiative, under which Venezuela sells fuel directly to 13 Caribbean countries with low-interest financing and deferred payment.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said the island isn't eligible to join the pact because of its status as a U.S. commonwealth.
Addressing reporters at the capitol building, Acevedo Vila said the two governments initiated the meeting to bring "formality" to talks about a future oil deal and other commercial ventures "of benefit to both peoples."
Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez said he told Acevedo Vila about Venezuela's need for medicine, and didn't rule out the possibility that Venezuela could one day supply fuel to Puerto Rico in exchange for drugs.
Under Petrocaribe, countries pay market prices for oil, but can pay for a portion up front and finance the rest over 25 years at low interest rates. Countries may also pay partly with services or goods such as rice, bananas or sugar.
The governor said he would "explore the possibility" of encouraging locally based pharmaceutical companies to produce drugs that could be sold to Venezuela more cheaply.
The pharmaceutical industry accounts for roughly a quarter of Puerto Rico's gross domestic product, however, most of the drug makers are owned by multinational corporations, AP reports.
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