The tenth part of Cuba’s debt to Russia will be invested in the economy of the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez.
According to Lavrov, various companies are interested in working in Cuba, including “Zarubezhneft”, “Rosneft”, “Inter RAO”.
Russian Foreign Minister said that there exists an important agreement that “has already taken place in the form of a corresponding agreement cancelling the debt of Cuba to our country.” “This agreement is now in the final stages of ratification,” – said the Minister.
Russia and Cuba signed documents on cooperation in customs and space fields after the 11th session of the intergovernmental Russian-Cuban commission on trade-economic and scientific-technical cooperation.
The meeting in Moscow on Friday was held by the Minister of Industry and Trade of Russia Denis Manturov and Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investments of the Republic of Cuba Rodrigo Malmierca.
In particular, there was signed a protocol between the Federal Customs Service (FCS) of Russia and the General Customs Administration of Cuba on the organization of prior exchange of information on goods transported between the two countries.
On Friday there was also signed a program of cooperation between the Federal Space Agency and the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba in the sphere of peaceful exploration and use of the outer space for 2013-16. The intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in this field was signed in February during the visit of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Cuba.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, will discuss with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, the increase and diversification of trade between the two countries during Rodriguez’s official visit to Moscow, which will be held from 29 to 30 May, said spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alexander Lukashevich.
According to the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the ties between Russia and Cuba are actively expanding in the field of energy, transport, telecommunications and other areas, including the Russian company “Zarubezhneft”, JSC “Gazprom Neft”, JSC “INTER RAO UES .”
In addition, according to the diplomat, the cooperation between Moscow and Havana in the field of tourism has acquired stability and developed over recent years. “In 2012, Cuba was visited by a record number of Russian citizens – 87,000 people, which is 9,000 people more than in 2011. Direct air communication established between the two countries has greatly contributed to the increase in the flow of tourists “, – said Lukashevich.
Russia has agreed to cancel most of Cuba’s $30 billion Soviet-era debt — the country’s biggest debt cancellation in years, according to an agreement reached during Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the Caribbean island late last week. Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, who accompanied Medvedev during his visit to Cuba, said Russia would write off most of its debt to Cuba. The remainder of the debt will be restructured within 10 years.
Both sides announced that they had signed a preliminary agreement and the final one would be concluded within several months. “We will complete all the formalities by September,” Manturov told reporters.
Moscow’s decision to cancel Cuba’s debt comes in the wake of similar agreements with Afghanistan, North Korea, Iraq, Syria and Libya. Russia has written off a total of $138 billion in debts owed by former clients and allies, according to estimates provided by the Slon.ru news site. The debt cancellation is a part of a deal under which Cuba will possibly lease Russian civilian aircraft, Manturov said. Manturov said Cuba would get several Russian planes worth $650 million.
Seven intergovernmental documents are expected to be signed during Medvedev’s stay, including an agreement on cooperation in space research and a memorandum on mutual understanding between Rosatom and the Cuban national nuclear safety center. A deal might also be clinched for Ilyushin Finance to supply An-158 regional jets to Cuban operators.
The main focus of the Russian-Cuban talks is expected to be bilateral trade, which totaled a mere $194.9 million for the first 11 months of 2012. Havana and Moscow agreed to try to expand and diversify commercial relations during Raul Castro’s visit to Moscow last July.
Cubans are hoping that small figure will increase drastically if Russia’s overseas oil company Zarubezhneft finds oil when it completes drilling that it began in December off Cuba’s northwestern coast. If oil is found when the first stage of drilling is complete in June 2013, investment in the project could reach 5 billion euros ($6.7 billion), according to a company statement.