Hinting that debt renegotiations may be in the making, a Japanese
foreign relations delegation meeting with Cuban Foreign Ministry
officials in Havana Feb. 4 "recognized the existing potential to expand
and diversify economic and trade links and cooperation between the two
countries," according to a Cuban press release.
During a visit to Japan by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez in Dec.
2009, during the worst of Cuba's cash crunch, Foreign Minister Katsuya
Okada said the debt issue required "obvious improvement," and said that
Japan won't increase trade and other cooperation until Cuba addresses
During much of 2009, Cuba froze foreign accounts and practiced selective
default, with Japanese export loans being among the early victims.
Throughout 2010, Cuba, according to officials, has gradually released
frozen foreign assets and is trying to settle overdue debt to suppliers.
Cuba accounted for a "large part" of $7.3 million in recoveries in the
Central and North America region by NEXI, the Japanese export guarantee
agency said in its financial-year 2009 report. That's up from $5.4
million in 2008, but still much below the $27.8 million in 2007 and
$34.2 million in 2006.
In 2008, Cuba accounted for the lion's share of export credit insurance
claims paid by NEXI. NEXI paid $173 million in Cuba-related claims in
2009, of worldwide $192 million in claims. Cuba accounts for about 5
percent of NEXI's total outstanding commitment.
The delegation, part of routine bilateral consultations, was led by
Masashi Mizukami, general director of the Latin America and Caribbean desk.
The group was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Marcelino Medina
González; in the press bulletin issued by the ministry, he was described
as "interim" foreign minister.