14ymedio/EFE, Moscow, 30 August 2023 — Russia and Cuba will deepen bilateral cooperation, especially in the field of energy, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported today after a meeting held between the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergey Riabkov, and the Minister of Energy and Mines of the Island, Vicente de la O Levy.
According to the statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry, “during the meeting, which took place in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual understanding inherent in the Russian-Cuban dialogue, the strengthening of bilateral cooperation was addressed, particularly in the field of energy, in the spirit of establishing a strategic alliance.”
Moscow once again recognized Havana by confirming the “consistent position regarding the need for the immediate cessation of the commercial, economic and financial blockade of Cuba by the United States.”
The rest of the Russian industries that were already operating in the country were granted extensions for their operations
Last Tuesday, the Sputnik newscast agency announced the certification of nine Russian livestock companies, for a total of 23, that will be able to operate in Cuba. After inspection by the National Agricultural Health Center of the Island, three pork companies, two dairy and another four of meat products — pork, poultry and beef — will be able to market their products in the Cuban market. The rest of the Russian industries that were already operating in the country were granted extensions for their operations.
The traditional relations between Russia and Cuba received a new impetus last May, after both countries endorsed the desire to strengthen the Russian financial and business presence on the Island with exemption from tariffs, land concessions and ties between their banking systems.
One of the most controversial measures was the delivery in usufruct, for 30 years, of land to Russian businessmen who wish to exploit it. The president of the Cuba-Russia Business Council, Boris Titov, then explained that among the concessions were “both the long-term lease of land and the tax-free import of agricultural machinery, the granting of the right to transfer profits in foreign currency and much more.
A high percentage of state land, for example 90%, should be sold to the national private sector
The Cuban economist Pedro Monreal then published on his X account (formerly known as Twitter) a critique of the strategic meaning of the package of measures for the national economy. “If it is about promoting entrepreneurs, then the game should be leveled for nationals,” he said, explaining that national production and support for Cuban entrepreneurs should be favored over foreign investors.
“A high percentage of state land, for example 90%, should be sold to the national private sector — independent owners and companies. In this way, “the private sector would have the possibility of negotiating directly with foreign entrepreneurs about the management of those lands,” rather than the State.
Despite the close political ties, in 2022 the bilateral trade exchange between Moscow and Havana was only 451 million dollars, a figure that the Russians want to improve.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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