In 2019, commercial exchange between Cuba and Russia exceeded 500 million dollars, Cuban ambassador in Moscow Gerardo Peñalver Portal said to Sputnik.
“We concluded last year with a commercial exchange of 450 million dollars, and this year (2019), with the last months registering a very strong take off in the commercial exchange, we are already going to exceed 500-550 million dollars,” he said in an interview he gave to Sputnik.
The Cuban diplomat recalled that in 2013 bilateral trade stood at 180 million dollars, and then with the visit to Cuba of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the latter set the goal of increasing trade volumes between the two countries.
Thus, the increase in Cuban-Russian trade exceeds 67% in recent years, which Peñalver highlighted as a stage of “revitalization of the dynamics of relations between Cuba and Russia, especially in the economic-commercial sphere, as well as in political dialogue, scientific-technical cooperation.”
He noted that the bilateral economic agenda from 2012 to 2020 signed by Cuba and Russia “has been fulfilled practically in all its magnitude.”
The ambassador said that Cuba has “a multifaceted cooperation with Russia.”
“We have very strategic collaboration projects in the field of automotive, railroad, air, maritime transportation, and in the sphere of energy,” he stressed.
The Cuban diplomat recalled the “megaproject” of modernization of the railroad infrastructure on the island, which came about with the signing of a contract for more than 1.8 billion euros during Medvedev’s visit to Cuba last October.
“It will have a revolutionary impact on transportation in Cuba because it will reduce the travel time of passengers and cargo by half, it will more than double and almost triple the volume of cargo on that transportation, through the railroads, and double the number of passengers,” he explained.
The Cuban ambassador also highlighted the increase in visits of Russian tourists to the island in 2019.
“Last year, 137,000 Russian tourists visited Cuba. Russia was in 10th place in the issuance of tourists to Cuba, today it is already in 4th place, after Canada, the United States and Germany; it will end 2019 with practically close to 180,000 tourists,” he said.
In metallurgy, he said Cuba and Russia have two major projects: “the modernization of the Antillana de Acero metallurgical complex in El Cotorro, Havana, and also the modernization of the Acinox laminator.”
Referring to the pharmaceutical sphere of Cuban-Russian cooperation, Peñalver pointed to the introduction of “biotech industry medicines such as Heberprot-P” to the Russian market.
“They are very advanced, they are already registered in Russia, for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcer. It is the only medicine based on biotechnology and we are introducing it in some regions,” he said.
He also recalled that preparations are being given the finishing touch to open a representation of the BioCubaFarma Group in Russia “to be able to directly interact with the Russian side in the development of projects in the medical-pharmaceutical, health care industry.”
Greater Russian investment
Cuba aspires for Russia to invest more in the island’s economy, said Peñalver Portal.
“We hope that there will be much more investment from Russia in sectors of the economy, both in productive sectors and in tourism, for example,” he said and stressed that it is “a pending subject, some steps have been taken, but it still is below potential.”
Peñalver said that Cuba is currently striving to develop and to diversify its energy mix, and expressed the hope that Russia will participate in that task.
The diplomat said that the island produces almost 50% of the fuel needed for both transportation and power generation, and “the rest we have to import and we are aware that renewable energy must be developed.”
He recalled that the Cuban government approved a plan that aims to raise the components of renewable energy by 2030 in power generation “from the 4% of a few years ago to 24%.”
The diplomat said that Cuba has the capacity to develop wind power, photovoltaic and biomass energy.
“We have a potential in these three energy sources and we hope that Russia will also participate in these projects,” he said.
Latin America division
The Latin American region is experiencing a division caused by the actions of the United States, said the Cuban ambassador in Moscow.
“I can say what unites us, what has disunited us for many years. It is the malicious action of the United States to try to divide our America,” he said.
Peñalver was sure that in all the “parliamentary, judicial, police coup d’états in Latin American countries,” “the divisive hand, the manipulative hand, the action of the United States” can be seen.
“That is the time Latin America is experiencing, they are great challenges that affect Latin American unity, but we must overcome and after a long night there is always a dawn,” he said.
At the same time, the Cuban diplomat endorsed attempts to bring unity to the region, highlighting the efforts of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
“The creation of CELAC was a very important contribution and Mexico, which will assume the presidency, must revitalize it,” he said, and concluded that Cuba “fully supports” CELAC’s integration efforts.