Relations with China reach stage of maturity
• Approximately 10% of Cuba’s total foreign trade is with that Asian nation
BY JOAQUIN ORAMAS
PHOTOS: AHMED VELAZQUEZ
“ECONOMIC and commercial relations between Cuba and China, which began a little more than 40 years ago, have progressed rapidly and today we can state with satisfaction that we are at a point of maturity and a promising future,” affirmed Government Minister Ricardo Cabrisas at the opening of the Cuba-China Investment and Trade Forum, which took place in Havana’s Nacional Hotel.
In addition to Cabrisas, the forum was led by Raúl de la Nuez, minister of foreign trade; Marta Lomas, minister of foreign investment and economic cooperation; Manuel Marrero, minister of tourism; and Ma Xiuhing, deputy minister of trade for the People’s Republic of China.
Bilateral cooperation is becoming steadily closer and promises ample prospects in the near future. There is still considerable potential for expanding economic and trade relations, Cabrisas assured, going on to mention that science and technology have made significant advances in the last 10 years, directed at obtaining and marketing innovative products with a high potential of exploitation. These include biotechnological items and pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, advanced diagnostic means and computer goods and services of high added value.
He noted that China has attained significant results in this sphere, which could be the object of mutual investment to the benefit of the economic and social development of both nations.
Minister Cabrisas noted that on the basis of China’s decision to consider Cuba as a tourist destination for its citizens, the island is working seriously to present an attractive and safe market to satisfy mutual interests.
He likewise emphasized the potential Cuba offers as a springboard for business in the Caribbean region in sectors such as multi-destination tourism and telecommunications.
At the meeting, which took place in the context of the official visit to Cuba by Chinese President Hu Jintao, the Cuban minister added that relations with the great Asian nation are characterized by a growing expansion and a decisive advance toward greater consolidation.
He affirmed that the forum demonstrates a steadily growing Chinese interest in the Cuban market and in establishing direct links between the business sector in both nations to promote relations.
He explained that the seminars organized within the forum include those sectors of the Cuban economy where joint work in the last few years has helped identify concrete possibilities for extending trade and cooperation.
Cabrisas stated that China has become one of Cuba’s main trade partners with a 10% participation in the total of the island’s foreign trade. He went on to note that trade statistics from January to October of this year ascend to more than $600 million.
In the context of the development of trade between the two countries Cabrisas commented on the important evolution of moving from simple operations just a few years ago to more complex and diversified forms of exchange in line with the requirements of the respective markets and international practices. In terms of investment, he confirmed that there are 11 joint ventures in the spheres of agriculture, telecommunications, biotechnology, tourism and the light industry. At the same time there are three cooperative enterprises in the light industry and iron and steel sectors. Concurrently there is another group of important projects of various kinds in telecommunications and electronics, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, and radio and television, among others.
Even more significant are those currently under negotiation, which respond to the two nations’ strategic interests, he noted.
Finally, Cabrisas affirmed that the conditions and potential exist to place economic and commercial relations at state level on both sides.
For her part, Ma Xiuhong, deputy minister of trade of the People’s Republic of China, highlighted the possibilities of fortifying links with Cuba in various sectors. The two countries concede much significance to bilateral trade and economic relations and have taken serious steps in that context, she added.
She announced that her country’s investments in the island stand at $50 million and the possibilities of cooperation in the nickel industry, prospecting for oil, and machines and spare parts are currently being considered.
Activities and contacts between Cuban and Chinese entrepreneurs have intensified, as have those between provinces and regions in the two countries, affirmed Bertha Delgado Guanche, president of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, on welcoming 100-plus executives from the Asian country to the Cuba-China Investment and Trade Forum.
Some 400 entrepreneurs from the two countries participated in the event, and in respective sectorial seminars discussed business possibilities in nickel and other natural resources, tourism and civil aviation, telecommunications, the light industry and electronics.