Philippe Couillard Leads Trade Delegation to Havana

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Philippe Couillard, Premier of the province of Québec is in Havana, strengthening trade relations.  He finished his two day trip to Havana with an unexpected meeting with President Raul Castro.  Mr. Couillard summed up the official visit on Twitter as, “Successful meeting with President Raùl Castro. He confirmed his desire to advance the relationship.”  It was a surprise visit as his original agenda had not included meeting Cuba’s President.

President Castro said the visit was fruitful and is very interested the Quebec-Cuba relationship.

Radio-Canada reported that the official visit resulted in an agreement on tourism and an agreement to open a permanent representative office in Havana.

Approximately 40 companies from Québec in the construction, food processing, renewable energy, science and technology and tourism industries made up the trade delegation led by Mr. Couillard.

Earlier this year, government officials of the province of Québec were in Havana with the intention of opening a permanent trade office in the capital city. 

“It would be a very concrete gesture to show our determination to establish [a] sustainable and permanent relationship with Cuba,” International Relations Minister Christine St-Pierre had said in an earlier interview with CBC news.

Québec businesses want to take advantage of the current business climate in Cuba and develop relations in the fields of science, education and culture.

Québec and Canada’s relationship with Cuba dates back to the 1700s and was deepened during the leadership of Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau.  A strong friendship existed between Mr. Trudeau and former President Fidel Castro.  Canada was one of two nations not to break with Cuba after the Cuban revolution.  Earlier in May, Cuba’s Foreign Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla made a visit to Ottawa to explore new areas of bilateral collaboration.

The Québec delegation will be in Havana until Friday.

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