Red Carpet in Cuba for the Russians: Land in Usufruct for 30 Years and Tax Exemptions

Havana, chaired by Ricardo Cabrisas and Boris Titov. (EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 18 May 2023 — “They are giving us preferential treatment, the road is paved.” The words of Boris Titov, president of the Cuba-Russia Business Council, at the inauguration of the bilateral business economic forum this Wednesday at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, eloquently illustrate the state of the relationship between the two countries.

According to the Reuters agency, the Kremlin’s adviser said that the Island has offered Russian businessmen the right to land in usufruct for a period of 30 years, an unprecedented concession by the revolutionary regime.

Those conditions affect, he explained, “both the long-term lease of land and the tax-free importation of agricultural machinery, the granting of the right to transfer foreign exchange profits and much more. Of course, we are also waiting for the reduction of bureaucratic barriers,” he added.

Titov, who has been advising the Cuban authorities on economic matters for months, has also stated, according to Sputnik, that the Díaz-Canel Government is willing “to provide more favorable conditions for Russian investors.”

“Cuba is being transformed, mastering new rules for the interaction between the State and the companies,” he said at the opening of the meeting.

Thus, for example, they will exempt Russian companies from tariffs to import technology and allow them to repatriate their benefits to Russia, a privilege that no other foreign entrepreneurs in Cuba enjoy.

In addition, Putin’s adviser said he was considering speeding up transport between the two countries. “In Soviet times there was a direct port and maritime connection,” he said, and they are “analyzing this possibility with the owners of Cuban ships” (i.e., the State).

On the Island’s side, Ricardo Cabrisas, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, told reporters that the economic ties between his country and Moscow will only grow. “Nothing and no one can stop it,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

Sergei Baldin, Russia’s trade representative in Cuba, told the British agency that bilateral trade between the two nations reached 450 million dollars in 2022, three times as much as in 2021. Ninety percent of this was purchases of petroleum products and soybean oil.

The distrust that Russia had towards Cuba in recent decades for the non-payment of its debts changed completely as a result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. A few days earlier, Moscow announced an extension for the payments of the Russian credits granted to Havana until 2027.

Since the war began, there have been bilateral meetings that specified symbiotic needs: that of Russia for having allies on the planet, after the majority rejection of its actions in Ukraine, and that of Cuba for trying to breathe life into its devastated economy.

Last January, both agreed to create an Economic Transformation Center with the aim of modifying the Island’s economy based on “the development of private enterprise,” something that many NGOs have denounced as an attempt to transform a “state economy model” into the “Russian market mafia” scheme.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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