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Venezuela launches joint venture with Samsung Electronics

Wednesday, 20 Nov 2013 | 2:42 PM ET

CARACAS, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Venezuela's government and South Korea's Samsung Electronics said on Wednesday they are forming a joint venture to assemble devices and home appliances in the South American country.

Industry Minister Ricardo Menendez said early production of smaller items such as tablets and cellphones is expected to start next year. The government will have a 51 percent stake in the project, while Samsung has the rest.

The government of President Nicolas Maduro launched an "economic offensive" this month, including inspecting hundreds of businesses for price gouging. Crowds have lined up at stores for state-ordered discounts ahead of Dec. 8 municipal elections.

Government officials have said the Samsung deal will be a model of how business should be done, rather than letting unscrupulous small companies import goods and sell them at a big markup.

Separately, the petroleum minister, Rafael Ramirez, who is also vice president for the economy, said the government was importing more than 400,000 electrical products and appliances in the coming days to meet local demand.