Friday, September 28, 2012

China, Cuba to intensify trade as Havana meets debt payments

China, Cuba to intensify trade as Havana meets debt payments

HAVANA — Cuba will intensify its economic ties with China, having met
payments on its debt with Beijing, its second largest trade partner,
Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas announced on Thursday.

Speaking on state-run television, Cabrisas said Cuba is committed to
"strict compliance of our financial obligations with China, including
those related to the rescheduling of our debt."

Cabrisas, who gave no details about the size of Cuba's debt with China,
made his remarks after the conclusion Wednesday of the latest round of
bilateral trade talks.

China's growing investment in Cuba can be seen in the context of helping
Cuba's domestic development, the minister said.

"We are heading into a higher stage (of investment) as part of our
social and economic development plan for our country," Cabrisas said.

Beijing's Minister for Commerce Chen Deming, who represented China at
the talks, said Cuba's payments towards its debt had "contributed to the
restoration of confidence" between the two trade partners.

China is Cuba's second biggest trade partner after Venezuela. Their
bilateral trade in 2011 was $1.9 billion, with about two-thirds of that
balance in China's favor. Trade reached $870 million for the first half
of this year.

The deal covers 10 joint enterprises -- six in Cuba, four in China -- in
several areas, including farming, light industry and tourism.

The agreement also will allow Havana to obtain replacement parts for
thousands of trains, buses cars and trucks purchased from China in 2006
by then-President Fidel Castro. Another important project involves
China's assistance with construction at Cuba's key port of Mariel, news
reports here said.

Havana exports primarily commodities to China such as sugar and nickel,
as well as some biotechnology products.

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