China issues some details of loan for new Santiago port

A Chinese loan will enable the construction of a multipurpose sea terminal in Santiago de Cuba, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Sunday (July 27).

The documents outlining the loan were signed last Tuesday (July 22) in Havana by Gao Hucheng, China’s minister of Trade, and Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuba’s minister of Foreign Trade and Investment.

Xinhua does not specify the amount of the loan but quotes Leonardo Naranjo, head of the Santiago port services as saying that “the cost of the investment will exceed 100 million dollars.”

Naranjo told the Santiago television station that the new dock will be 200 meters long (218 yards). It will be equipped with three gantry cranes and two covered warehouses. Modern technology will expedite the unloading of ships.

The waters at dockside will be deepened to 6 fathoms (11 feet), enabling the unloading of ships of up to 40,000 tons displacement. The existing port allows for ships up to 25,000 tons only.

port-santiago-de-cubaThe new port will be Cuba’s second deep-water port. The first one was the new port at Mariel, 45 kilometers west of Havana, the site of a Special Development Zone.

Last week, Chinese president Xi Jinping and Cuban President Raúl Castro oversaw the signing of 29 trade agreements, involving the installation of digital television on the island with Chinese technology. Other sectors were renewable energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and infrastructure.

In one deal, China National Petroleum Corporation will assist in searching for new offshore oil fields. CNPC is the largest integrated energy company in China.

According to Xinhua, China-Cuba trade in 2013 was “a modest 1.88 billion dollars. But that’s precisely why many believe there is so much room for growth in the near future, especially after Cuba approved a bill making the island more attractive to foreign investors.”

xi-jinping-cuba-santiago23jyIn a statement published in Granma last Friday (July 25), Xi said that his visit to Cuban had been “a total success” and that he was full of confidence in the future of bilateral cooperation.

Xi visited Santiago de Cuba before returning to Beijing. For details of that visit, in Spanish, click here.