Cuba and Russia Agree on New Economic Deals

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cuba, russia, trade deal, cuba-russia relations, energy, trade

cuba, russia, trade deal, cuba-russia relations, energy, trade

US economic aggression against Russia and Cuba has led to a rapid increase in trade between the two and encouraged both countries to expand ties at all levels.

Russian officials and business leaders concluded a number of deals with their counterparts in Cuba this week in an effort to bolster the island nation’s supplies of wheat and crude oil and increase its faltering exports of sugar and rum, officials declared.

At the economic forum in Havana where the deals were arranged, Ricardo Cabrisas, Cuba’s foreign trade minister, told audiences on Friday that the agreements “constitute a milestone in the history of our bilateral and business ties.”

Joint plans were also reportedly announced to reinvigorate Cuba’s tourism industry, which was ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, and to provide Russian investors with “special conditions” to incentivize financing.

The agreements came shortly after Russian authorities announced a resumption of regular direct flights between Moscow and Havana, which were dramatically reduced after the EU prohibited Russian passenger jets from flying over continental Europe last year.

Citing a document from the Cuban-Russian Business Committee, Reuters reported the agreements include “a contract for Russia’s Prodintorg to supply wheat to Cuba’s state-owned Alimport, aimed at “guaranteeing the stability” of supply to the Cuban population.”

“Another deal will create a Cuba-based marketplace for Russian goods, including food and home goods, called Rusmarket, which will also help spur development of more direct and fluid shipping routes between the two countries,” the document reportedly indicated.

A third agreement declares the intention of Russian and Cuban authorities to renovate a run-down beach community just outside Havana, where the picturesque white sand beaches are “ideal for enjoying the ocean, fishing and diving,” per the document.

Cuban media reported that Russian officials supplied Havana with financial backing and technical knowledge needed to restart operations at a steel mill, which would help kick start construction on the island.

In addition, “Alexander Bogatyr, advisor to the President of [Russia’s] Progress Agro group of companies, and Julio Andrés García Pérez, president of [Cuba’s] Azcuba Sugar Industry Business Group, signed a collaboration memorandum,“ Cuba’s Prensa Latina wrote.

Bogatyr reportedly described the deal as a joint venture to overhaul Cuba’s aging “Uruguay” sugar mill in Sancti Spiritus province, in the hopes of eventually exporting up to 150,000 tons of sugar per year.

By preventing the import of much-needed materials, US sanctions have crushed the industry, with just 23 refineries currently in action – down from 36 last year. Cuba is now on track to produce less sugar than it consumes domestically for the first time in a century.

“Cuba was once one of the top producers (of sugar) on the international market and with this project, working together, we hope to gradually lift levels of output,” Bogatyr said.

“It would be a significant investment because we’d bring all of the new equipment and organize the supplies necessary to produce cane, such as fertilizer, and specialized technology,” he explained.

Trade between Cuba and Russia tripled in 2022, reaching $450 million. In the first four months of 2023, it hit $137.6 million, a level which reportedly amounts to nine times the level of trade during the same period last year, according to Russian officials.

The friendship between Russia and Cuba stretches back to the 1950’s, when aggressive US posture towards the government of Fidel Castro pushed Havana to align with the Soviet Union.

In recent years, US efforts to weaponize economic sanctions in a bid to crush the economic life of each country have once again driven both nations to pursue more comprehensive relations with one another.





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