The first official visit of a Chinese Premier to Cuba has turned out to be a huge success as far as the strengthening of strategic relations and trade.
In a three day whirlwind of successive meetings, a Cuba-China business forum, and signing ceremonies, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang leaves Havana today, 28 agreements in hand. These agreements between Cuba and China strengthen strategic relations between the two countries, further developing and strengthening the already existing partnership. Links between Cuba and China have never been stronger.
China, the second largest trade partner of Cuba (in first place, Venezuela), is the first commercial partner of Cuba in goods and services. In the Asia-Pacific region, it is the largest trade partner with Cuba. Chinese Yutong buses are everywhere. Chinese household appliances such as fridges, washing machines, stoves and microwaves fill the stores and homes of Cubans. Huawei telephones are hugely popular because of an earlier business agreement with ETECSA and internet infrastructure is being installed, as we speak, by the Chinese.
The signed agreements include an action plan that will serve as a road map for both the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba and the China Council through to the year 2017.
Rodrigo Malmierca, Foreign Trade and Investment Minister explained to the official Cuban press that both Cuba and China had agreed to a bilateral agenda on cooperation. Cooperation agreements have been signed in infrastructure, communications, health, biotechnology, tourism, finance, telecommunications, economic technology, production capacity, and environmental protection. These represent huge business opportunities for the Chinese.
The new Cuban economic model has created better conditions and opportunities in business for Chinese companies in the various sectors. At the Cuba-Chinese business forum, the Chinese trade delegation expressed the importance of increasing trade and investment as well as continued financial investment in infrastructure in terms of road construction, airports, and job creation for Cubans.
Some 36 Chinese companies from technology, finance, machinery, real estate and other industry sectors took part in the Cuba Chinese business forum.
What does this signify for Cuba? It will mean massive economic development with new and existing trade partners. The official visit of Premier Li Keqiang follows back to back with the official visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Prime Minister Abe’s visit produced very positive results ranging from financial aid to purchase medical equipment, grants for medical aid of $12.9 million, debt forgiveness, and the establishment of a medical training center in Cuba.
What does this signify for Cuba besides huge economic growth and infrastructure development? The Asians are coming for sure, but if the truth be told, the Asians have already arrived.