Business & Economy

Cuba, Russia agree to boost economic ties

Havana, May 19 (EFE).- Cuban and Russian officials announced here Friday a set of measures aimed at expanding Russia’s economic footprint on the island, including efforts to integrate the two countries’ banking systems.

The steps were discussed following an economic forum in Havana involving more than 150 representatives of Russian and Cuban business.

Russian capital will be channeled into several strategic sectors on the Communist-ruled island, such as transportation and logistics, agriculture, tourism, construction, and manufacturing, Cuba’s minister of Foreign Trade and Investment said.

The intention is “to elevate the presence of Russia in Cuba’s 2030 economic and social development plan,” Ricardo Cabrisas said.

To facilitate that process, Cuba will lift tariffs on Russian imports, allow Russia’s banks to operate on the island, and establish a mechanism for the exchange of roubles and pesos, according to Boris Titov, the Russian presidential commissioner for entrepreneurs’ rights, who took part in the economic forum.

Russia’s deputy prime minister for Tourism, Sport, Culture, and Communications, Dmitry Chernyshenko, said in Havana that the two governments have agreed on the creation of the necessary banking infrastructure to enable an expansion of Russian business activity in Cuba.

He said that Moscow will assist in the modernization of Cuba’s sugar industry, a vital source of hard currency that has struggled through several years of declining output.

Officials also hailed the resumption of direct flights between Russia and Cuba, which were suspended in March 2022 amid Western sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Despite the warmth of the bilateral relationship, trade between Cuba and Russia totaled only $451 million in 2022.

A succession of high-ranking Russian officials have made visits to Cuba since the start of the year, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, parliament speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, and the head of state oil giant Rosneft, Igor Sechin. EFE jce/dr

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