HAVANA TIMES — China granted Cuba several new loans on Tuesday, including one for the construction of a port terminal in Santiago de Cuba, according to the agreements signed during the visit to the island by Chinese President Xi Jinping, reported dpa news.
The loans from Peking are interest-free, while there are also new trade agreements and donations. The official Cuban media did not disclose the amounts involved.
The new lines of credit for Cuba add to the loans and investment agreements granted by China to Venezuela and Argentina during the earlier legs of the trip of President Xi Jinping to the region. Havana and Santiago de Cuba are his last stops before returning to China later Wednesday.
The governments of Beijing and Havana signed a total of 29 agreements to enhance cooperation and economic relations, according to information released by the state television.
The first “concessional credit line” will be aimed at “building a multipurpose terminal in the port of Santiago de Cuba,” states the text of the agreement.
Other loans are meant to postpone payment of the Cuban debt with Beijing and make possible the installing of digital television on the island, which is being carried out with Chinese technology.
Other contracts provide for cooperation in the sugar and oil industries as well as Cuba’s sale to China of nickel derivatives.
Xi took part in official talks in the afternoon on Tuesday with his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro. In the morning he visited former President Fidel Castro, active in recent days with foreign policy matters.
Xi gave Fidel Castro a bronze bust of 175 kilograms depicting the Cuban revolutionary in his youth.
In his first visit to Cuba as head of state, Xi was granted the Jose Marti order, the highest distinction awarded by the Cuban state.
The Chinese leader travels on Wednesday to Santiago de Cuba, from where he will return to his country. Cuba’s second largest city, located in the east of the country, is still recovering from the devastating hurricane “Sandy” in October 2012.
Before reaching Cuba, the Chinese leader was in Venezuela and Argentina. Last week he also participated in the summit of the emerging group of BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) held in Fortaleza and Brasilia.
The BRICS group approved the creation of two alternative institutions to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), focused on their interests.
In Venezuela, Xi and President Maduro signed 38 agreements that include the sharp increase in the South American country’s oil sales to China.
Caracas will go from providing the current amount of 524,000 barrels per day to nearly double. The increase will be covered by a new line of Chinese credit of US $4 billion, which should ensure the supply of one million barrels of oil per day through 2016.
Xi also announced in Buenos Aires investments of almost $7 billion for the construction of two hydroelectric dams and the modernization of the railway.