Cuba seeks to increase trade, join China’s Belt and Road Initiative

HAVANA — Cuba seeks to increase trade with China and join the Belt and Road Initiative as a possible “regional node” for this plan to spread throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, the island’s first deputy minister of foreign trade and investment said Tuesday.

Antonio Carricarte, who inaugurated the Chinese pavilion at the 35th Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV 2017) along with Chinese Ambassador to Cuba Chen Xi, said the Caribbean nation wants to become a “hub” of maritime and air transport in the region, mainly through the Mariel Special Development Zone.

“This goal of our country can link us with China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its purpose of extending this project to the Caribbean and Latin America,” he said.

Carricarte said a great opportunity is opening up for Chinese entrepreneurs through the process of Latin American integration, in which Cuba actively participates.

“There are trade cooperation agreements among all Latin American countries within the framework of these integration mechanisms. This opens a door for Chinese companies in their goal of increasing cooperation with the continent,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chen said Cuba has maintained a growing trend in its exports to China in recent years.

“According to statistics during the first eight months of this year, the volume of bilateral trade totaled $1.13 billion, of which China exported $830 million to Cuba while the island exported $300 million to China,” the ambassador said, adding that this marked a 56-percent increase year-on-year.

Chen said the main Chinese products exported to the island pertain to the automotive industry, construction machinery, electromechanical items and home appliances, telecommunications and lighting.

“In addition to traditional products such as sugar and nickel, Cuba exported tobacco, biomedical products, seafood and rum to China, as well as seeing a substantial increase in Chinese tourism to the island,” he said.

Chen highlighted the new business spaces promoted by Cuba through the annual publication of a portfolio of opportunities in various sectors, the Mariel Special Development Zone and FIHAV itself.

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