Japan to increase trade with Cuba
OFFICIAL representatives of Japan and Cuba expressed a will to
work towards an increased dynamism in relations between the two
During a seminar in Havana to discuss Cuban-Japanese ties, José
Guerra Menchero, Cuban deputy minister for foreign affairs,
highlighted the great development potential presented by relations
with the Asian nation, although the process of finalizing new business
deals is very slow.
He highlighted the Community Aid Plan, via which 12 Japanese
cooperation projects are in progress, among them aid for sustainable
development in Cocodrilo locality, Isle of Youth, and the beginning of
the cleaning of Havana Bay.
On a different note, he recalled that in January 2000 both
governments decided to support an agreement for reprogramming
the islandís short-term debt, which facilities a 360-day exportation
insurance from Japan to Cuba for $125 million USD.
Japan, the second world economic power, is showing interest in and
paying attention to Cuban realities and, according to Matsuo
Mabuchi, Japanese ambassador to Cuba, is to expand and deepen
exchanges in various fields. He also expressed his countryís desire to
strengthen cooperation, especially in the environmental and
Mabuchi announced that Japan intends to increase technical aid in the
agricultural sector, particularly in rice production, bearing in mind its
technical expertise in that cultivation.
Reviewing the development of ties with Cuba, he referred to efforts
made by both governments to recuperate the active economic
relation sustained in the í70s and í80s. He considered Japanís
participation in the Havana Trades Fair and the increase of Japanese
tourists to Cuba as positive signs. In the latter sphere, Japan is a
latent market with 17 million of its citizens traveling abroad per year.
If only 1% of that total visited Cuba it would be a great contribution,
Mabuchi affirmed. He added that a total of 9,300 Japanese traveled
to the island to experience the reality of Cuban society, different
from any other in the world. "I would like Japanese people to see it
with their own eyes," he affirmed.
As an example, he cited the current tripartite agreement between
Honduras, Japan and Cuba through which Tokyo provides medicines
and medical equipment to the Honduran San Francisco Hospital
where Cuban doctors are working. Similarly, he pointed out that
cultural exchange occupies an important position in the two nationsí
diplomacy. After reiterating the will of both countries to develop
economic relations, he revealed that obstacles still exist on both
sides, citing as the most difficult different approaches to doing
business. He subsequently highlighted the need to improve Japanese
knowledge of advanced Cuban sectors like biotechnology and
The international Cuba-Japan workshop, hosted by the Center for
Asian and Oceanic Studies and the Japan Foundation, covered a wide
agenda including economic and cultural activities and other sectors in
the Asian power.