CARACAS, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela, the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, is about to hold a crucial presidential election that will determine the country's political and economic model for the next six years.
On Oct. 7, about 19 million Venezuelan voters will decide between continuing economic and social reforms spearheaded by President Hugo Chavez who is running for reelection, or changing course with the more pro-business opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.
No matter who wins out, the next president needs to lift the country's relationship with the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), which Venezuela joined recently, and with China, said Gerardo Arellano, a Venezuelan foreign affairs expert.
In an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday, Arellano analyzed these strategic ties for the 2013-2019 presidential term, saying these will be the most relevant international issues for Venezuela's development.
"Wisely, the government promoted a series of alliances at the international level, and so now we have a more active relationship with China and with other Latin American countries, especially with Mercosur," Arellano said.
Mercosur is Latin America's largest trade bloc which groups Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay. After a zigzag application process since 2006, Venezuela finally got its full membership last August.
Arellano said Venezuela has to undertake a series of economic reforms in order to gain more benefits in the economic bloc.
"Venezuela needs a macroeconomic policy -- coherency between its fiscal, exchange, tax and economic policies in general -- that benefits its non-oil sector," he said.
"In that kind of setting, any integration plan -- the Pacific, Caribbean, Andean Community or Mercosur -- will be very beneficial."
Venezuela has advantages in the tourism industry, financial services and "online" trade compared to its Mercosur partners. Oil industry is still the country's strongest economic pillar that expects to produce 4 million barrels a day of crude in 2014, in addition to offering natural gas and other petrochemical products.
"I think these are important ties, they are strategic, we have to cultivate an active relationship with emerging countries, especially with China, South Africa, Brazil," said Arellano.
Spokesmen from the Venezuelan government said that if Chavez wins, Sino-Venezuelan cooperation will continue to grow. Venezuela aims to develop agribusiness, technology and manufacturing industries with China's help.
Juan Carlos Aleman, representative of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, said the Venezuelan people and government appreciate not only China's financing, but also China's willingness to transfer technology.
"I think this is a relationship that strengthens and grows every day. We are very grateful to the Chinese government for all the development we have had," said Aleman in another interview with Xinhua.
"Thanks to Chinese technologies, we can now begin to make our own vehicles and we have satellites," said Aleman, adding the two examples showed ties with the Asian giant have had an enormous impact on Venezuela's development.