LatinNews Daily - 21 April 2023

In brief: Cuba and Russia pledge further trade and economic cooperation

*Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has met Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, and former president Raúl Castro (2008-2018) in Cuba’s capital Havana. This is the final leg of Lavrov’s regional tour which has taken in Brazil, Venezuela and Nicaragua, and is aimed at shoring up support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russian state news agency Tass cited Lavrov as saying “discussions primarily referred to the review of additional areas where we can develop and build up our trade and economic cooperation”. It highlights that the two countries have set up a corresponding intergovernmental commission and adopted a list of bilateral top priority projects until 2030. According to Tass, in November 2022, both sides discussed Russia’s assistance in the modernisation of Cuba’s metallurgical works Antillana de Acero, and deliveries of Russian-made railway engines and cars, adding that Cuba is interested in Russian fertilisers and wheat. It also highlights cooperation in areas such as higher education and tourism, with Cuba wanting to receive more Russian tourists, and having said that it wants to ensure convenient payment means for Russian tourists. In March, various banks in Havana began to accept Russian Mir cards, a local payment card. A statement by Cuba’s foreign ministry (Minrex) regarding the meeting said that since August 2021, Russia had sent donations to address the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, particularly for the production of oxygen as medical treatment, and donated 25,000 tonnes (t) of wheat flour to Cuba in February 2023, among other things.

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