Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will make an official visit to Cuba this Thursday. It is the first such visit by a Spanish leader in 32 years despite Spain’s position as Cuba’s second biggest trade partner after Venezuela. Havana is in the process of developing closer ties with the European Union (EU).
As relations with Washington have soured, Havana has sought new allies within the EU as well as fortifying existing trade relations with other countries.
The Spanish leader’s visit follows closely on the heels of a meeting which took place this week between Vice-President of the Council of Ministers, Ricardo Cabrisas, and Stéfano Manservisi, Director General for Cooperation and Development of the European Commission. The official meeting is a part of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement for stronger ties with the EU (signed last year).
While in Havana, Prime Minister Sanchez will meet with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
Sanchez will also meet with Spanish business leaders and a business forum consisting of approximately 200 companies from both countries including Telefonica and Iberia Airlines.
Spain is one of the largest foreign investors in the tourism and financial services sectors of the Cuban economy.
The Spaniards hope to increase investment in tourism, renewable energy and infrastructure in Cuba, the Spanish government said.
Cuba is seeking expansion of foreign investment as its economy has suffered from the crisis in Venezuela, its biggest trading partner and oil provider, and the consequences of the U.S. embargo against the Island.
Sanchez will also discuss the issue of debt repayment by Cuba to Spain.
According to the Spanish government, Sanchez will also meet with artists including the writer, Leonardo Padura, and graphic artist and designer Idania del Rio.