Russian business showing renewed interest in trade with Cuba

Russia-Cuba commercial relations are expected to deepen as a result of business-to-business discussions in Moscow between Cuban and Russian enterprises.

Speaking to the Russian government-linked media platform Sputnik, the President of Cuba’s Chamber of Commerce, Orlando Hernandez, said that relations between the two countries were “in full development, both at the governmental and business levels”.

His remarks came against the background of the tenth meeting of the Cuba-Russia Business Committee and the holding of a Cuban ‘First National Exhibition’ in Moscow. The events follow recent high-level exchanges between the two governments aimed at deepening relations (Cuba Briefing 9 September 2019).

Organised by the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, the exhibition occupied a 600 square meter booth at Moscow’s Expocentre and involved the participation about 50 Cuban enterprises. Among the sectors exhibiting were companies involved in agribusiness, food and beverages, science, technology and the environment, medical services, products, services and technologies of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, culture, mining, energy, industry, tourism, construction and services.

Separately, Sputnik quoted Tatiana Mashkova, the Director General of the Russian National Committee for Economic Cooperation with the Latin American Countries, who is also the Vice President of the Cuba-Russia Business Committee, as saying that the Russia-Cuba business relationship was based on a common interest “not only of an economic nature but also of a political nature”.  

She said that as Russia’s main ally in the region, it would support Cuba in overcoming the complex situation it currently faces. “We know that Cuba is experiencing quite difficult times. But I think that we will overcome them together,” she was quoted as saying.

She also observed that Russia was learning from Cuba about the mechanisms that might be used to counteract the negative effects of sanctions. Mashkova told Sputnik “what we are learning from Cuba now is important and I think we have to come together”.

When it came to business, she said that the two sides were developing what she described as “more efficient economic schemes for collaboration”.

Mashkova suggested that the two countries needed to develop trade in a currency other than the US dollar indicating this would be beneficial for both countries. “We have to see how we can in our mutual trade, avoid the US dollar”, she told Sputnik, noting that the use of the US Dollar greatly prevented the two nations collaboration. The use of the Russian rouble in commercial transactions between the two countries was feasible, she added. Suggesting that there was a need to “work on more efficient economic schemes for collaboration” she also appeared to suggest that some form of barter trade or countertrade may be being explored.

Mashkova said that there was a growing interest among Russian business in the Cuban market and Cuban products, noting that many companies not accredited to attend Cuba’s First National Exhibition had asked to attend to discuss the opportunities Cuba offered.

Present at the meeting and exhibition in Moscow were Russian businesses and officials as well as the Cuban Vice President, Ricardo Cabrisas, and the Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca.

Russia is expected to have a significant presence at FIHAV 2019.

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