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.