Russia PM in Cuba to Boost Trade Ties

HAVANA TIMES — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev arrived today in Cuba in a working visit focused on boosting trade and strengthening economic ties between the two countries, according to the Russian government.

Medvedev — who traveled from Brazil, the first stop on his current trip to Latin America — will meet in Havana with President Raul Castro, reported DPA news.

The two leaders are expected to sign a series of agreements today, according to Cuba’s Foreign Ministry. Sources among the Russian delegation quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency spoke of the signing of seven documents.

These include an agreement for cooperation in space research, a memorandum for nuclear cooperation in the medical field, and an agreement for hydro-meteorological and environmental control cooperation between the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Cuba’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, according to Itar-Tass.

Russian trade with Cuba declined by 0.3 percent in 2012, according to figures released Wednesday by Moscow’s Ministry of Economic Development. The trade volume in the first 11 months of 2012 was close to $195 million.

Russian exports to Cuba included mainly machinery and vehicles, which accounted for 70.3 percent of its sales to the Caribbean island. Cuba exports mainly agricultural products (97.9 percent of its sales), according to figures from the Russian government.

Both countries are also seeking to undertake joint projects in the areas of energy, pharmaceuticals and industry, according to the Russian news agency.

The Soviet Union, until its demise, was the main trading partner of the Cuba of Fidel Castro. The fall of the Soviet bloc pushed the island to the brink of economic collapse during the “Special Period” of the ‘90s.

Since the end of that decade, Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela has become Cuba’s principal trading partner.


3 thoughts on “Russia PM in Cuba to Boost Trade Ties

  • Raul seems to have every reason to be happy, check today’s news:

    “Money owed to Moscow is worth almost 23 billion euros (30 billion US dollars). The preliminary agreement means Cuba will not have to pay the full amount back, and what is paid back will be restructured in a 10-year refinancing plan. Details will be finalised by the end of the year.”

    If that’s true is going to lift a heavy burden from Cuban shoulders. And commonality is completely unrelated to trade, that can very well have lots of things to discuss that can be mutually beneficial.

    Just to make a quick list, anything from oil extraction, the renovation of the army assets, the completion of the Juragua nuclear plant (this one very unlikely) or simply seek Cuba’s collaboration repositioning Russian commerce in the Latin America region with the help of ALBA.

  • Raul said something very interesting at a meeting with his Russian counterpart:

    * Cuba’s Raul Castro mentions possible retirement *

    “I am going to be 82 years old,” Castro said at a joint appearance with visiting Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. “I have the right to retire, don’t you think?”

    When reporters continued to shout questions about his plans for the next five years, Castro replied: “Why are you so incredulous?”

    He said to listen carefully on Sunday.

    “It will be an interesting speech,” he said. “Pay attention.”

  • An article published today in ‘Diario de Cuba’ claims the trade between Russia and Cuba is $292.5 million, not the almost $200 million reported in this article.
    Whatever the amount, even for Cuba, the total amount of trade between these two former closely-allied countries seems rather small. Especially in light of the debt of $30 billion Cuba still owes Russia dating back to the days of the USSR. Despite the optics that a photo of Medvedev and Castro smiling together implies, the low trade numbers implies a real lack of commonality between the two cultures.

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