These meetings take place after a visit by a number of senior Russian officials to Cuba over the past months, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Parliament Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, and Presidential Economic Adviser Maxim Oreshkin.
Representatives of about fifty Russian companies have been visiting Havana since Wednesday, in search of commercial and investment opportunities on the island, in an additional indication of the rapprochement efforts between Moscow and Havana.
Speaking to reporters at the opening of the Cuban-Russian Business Economic Forum, held until Friday, one of Cuba’s vice presidents, Ricardo Cabrisas, pointed out the “important participation of the Russian corporate sector, which responds to a policy established between the two countries.”
At the end of 2022, the two countries announced their intention to strengthen the “strategic partnership” between them, in light of “the common will to deepen political dialogue, economic, trade and financial ties, and ties of cooperation.”
The representative of the companies to the Kremlin, Boris Titov, stressed that the visit of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel to Moscow last November provided “great possibilities for Russian companies” and for the development of “joint projects”.
Titov, who is visiting Cuba for the second time since January, added that this visit, during which Diaz-Canel met Russian President Vladimir Putin, allowed the start of “a new phase in the development of our relations,” stressing that “we have great potential.”
The Business Economic Forum brings together 52 Russian companies and 106 Cuban companies, and it will be followed by a meeting of the Cuban-Russian Companies Committee in which Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko will participate, according to the Cuban press.
These meetings take place after a visit by a number of senior Russian officials to Cuba over the past months, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Speaker of Parliament Vyacheslav Volodin, and Economic Adviser to the Presidency Maxim Oreshkin.
The worst economic crisis
Cuba is facing the worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet bloc in the 1990s, with frequent cuts in food, medicine and fuel, under the influence of the enhanced US embargo on the island, the consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic and internal structural economic weaknesses.
The volume of economic exchanges between Cuba and Russia in 2022 reached 450 million dollars, a threefold increase from what it was in 2021, according to the new Russian trade representative in Cuba, Sergei Baldin, who just assumed his duties on the communist island.
Baladin explained that sales of oil and soybean oil accounted for 90% of these trade exchanges.
In return, Cuba exports rum, coffee and tobacco to Russia.