Interview: Economist says Cuba looks at ways to join China’s Belt & Road Initiative

by Raul Menchaca

HAVANA, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) — Cuba is looking at ways to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to boost global trade and infrastructure, according to Roberto Verrier, head of the Cuban export and investment promotion agency ProCuba.

“We have a multidisciplinary group comprised of experts from the ministries of Foreign Trade and Investment, and Science, Technology and Environment, as well as from research centers, that is studying Cuba’s incorporation into that project,” Verrier told Xinhua.

Several important Cuban companies are also analyzing the BRI, which was proposed by China in 2013, in search of ways to both contribute and benefit from the initiative.

Cuba “has real possibilities to do so,” said Verrier, adding that promoting Cuban products through the Chinese platform can give them added value.

“We can provide human capital and a privileged geographic location,” said the economist, underscoring the excellent relations between ProCuba and China International Electronic Commerce Center.

Verrier also highlighted Cuba’s participation in the China International Import Expo (CIIE), which is scheduled for Nov. 5-10.

The Cuban delegation is made up of 34 state-run companies in agriculture and processed food, science and technology, IT and communications, medical services and biotechnology, construction, trade and investment.

A China-Cuba Business Forum will be held during the fair to promote bilateral cooperation in areas such as foreign investment, tourism, culture and health.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel will attend the fair as part of a state visit to China.

“It shows that for our country trade ties with China are very important. They are necessary and strategic, and have mutual benefits,” the ProCuba’s chief said.

As for U.S. trade measures against China and Russia, Verrier described them as “part of the absurdities of the Trump Administration.”

“It is a trade war that affects not only China’s trade, but it is going to affect the United States’ own trade,” he said, noting that a few days ago several U.S. agricultural companies rejected their government’s new tariffs on Chinese goods.

“It is a madness that is going to in the first place harm America’s own interests, especially small and medium-size companies,” said the economist.

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