MOSCOW – The collaboration between Cuba and Russia is essential for the island to solve the current crisis and move towards a situation of stability at the hands of Russian businessmen and investors.
That is why the Cuban Government focuses its hopes on Russian investments and agreements that can be finalized after a week of negotiations with Russian partners and various activities that included the X Meeting of the Russia-Cuba Business Committee, the first National Exhibition of Cuba in Russia and the XVII meeting of the Russian-Cuban Intergovernmental Commission.
“I call on the continuing work to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the two peoples and governments, to make our economic, commercial and financial relations of cooperation more efficient,” said Vice President of the Cuban Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz to to take part in the plenary session of the XVII meeting of the Russian-Cuban Intergovernmental Commission that was held this September 20 in Moscow.
Cabrisas found that the US sanctions, together with the effects of climate change, have caused losses to the Cuban economy in the last decade, “for almost 33,000 million US dollars” and this also “has affected the financial situation and caused some arrears in our payments.”
However, he stressed, Cuba is resolving this situation “gradually” and “we have the will and the decision to fulfill each of our obligations to the Russian Federation.”
He added that Havana is satisfied “with the effective participation of the Russian Federation in Cuba’s economic-social development plan until 2030 and in perspective.”
Good news is that the volume of trade between Russia and Cuba could reach 500 million dollars by the end of this year, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov.
“The volume of Russian-Cuban trade grew by 34% last year, and this year we also see a systematic increase. At the end of 2019, we will strive to reach a level close to 500 million dollars,” he said.
Energy, the priority
Within the framework of the Cuba-Russia Intergovernmental Commission, a road map was signed to modernize Cuba’s energy system, which will allow the Caribbean country to save up to 1.8 billion dollars, Borisov said.
“A roadmap was signed to modernize Cuba’s energy industry to ensure energy security,” Borisov said.
The vice prime minister stressed that now “Cuba is under serious influence of sanctions and has a deficit of supplies of petroleum products.”
“The realization of this program will allow Cuba to reduce oil supplies from abroad by a third and save 1.8 billion dollars,” he said.
Last January Russia and Cuba agreed on a road map on cooperation in the field of energy in 2019, and decided to create a working group to implement projects aimed at modernizing Cuba’s energy sector with the help of Russian companies.
A more concrete step to materialize this cooperation was the agreement signed on September 20 between the Russian group INTER RAO and the Cuban company Energoimport for the capital technical maintenance of the generating units of three thermoelectric power stations on the island.
“This Agreement approves the work schedule for the recovery project for 10 units of 100 MW at the Ernesto Guevara thermoelectric power plants (east of Havana), Máximo Gómez (west of the capital) and Antonio Maceo (east of the island),” INTER RAO Export said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Cuban Deputy Minister of Energy Yuri Viamontes Lazo, spoke about the interest of Russian companies in the energy projects of the Caribbean country.
“We have a group of large Russian companies that have shown their willingness and we have been ratifying that provision and also expanding the possibility of projects,” Viamontes said.
Agriculture and other topics
Russia is interested in resuming agricultural cooperation with Cuba and raising it to the levels achieved during the Soviet era, the director general of the Russian National Committee for Economic Cooperation with Latin American Countries (CN CEPLA), Tatiana Mashkova said.
“I hope that on the issue of agriculture we can finally collaborate as actively as it was in the years of the Soviet Union,” Mashkova said in the framework of the first National Exhibition of Cuba in Russia.
The vice president for the Russian side of the Cuba-Russia business committee also recalled that in those years the Soviets supplied irrigation machinery and all kinds of harvesters to Cuba.
Mashkova stressed that among the plans of the Cuba-Russia business committee is to “develop collaboration in the field of agriculture.”
While several companies in the Cuban agricultural sector present at the first National Exhibition of Cuba in Russia – held in Moscow from September 18 to 20 – established contacts with Russian companies in order to export their merchandise and acquire advanced technologies for production in The Caribbean Island
“We had the opportunity to contact several Russian businessmen and they also wanted to establish business with us, beneficial for both parties,” the director of Selected Fruits, Juan Carlos Rodríguez, said.
Among the participants of the Cuban fair were also the Tecnoazúcar company and the Cuba Ron SA corporation, willing to position themselves in the Russian market with their main Mulata and Cubay rums, respectively. BioCubaFarma also arrived, with innovative medicines, technologies and health equipment that could be in demand in the Russian market.
The first National Exhibition of Cuba in Russia was held in the Russian capital from September 18 to 20.
The fair, which was attended by more than 50 Cuban companies, allowed the study of bilateral trade and investment opportunities offered by Cuba in the main sectors of the national economy, including agribusiness, food and beverages, science and technology, medical services, products, services and technologies of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry and others.