An important Chinese bank, the Exim Bank, gave Cuba credits for the purchase of equipment and inputs that will guarantee two of the economic programmes prioritised by the largest of the Caribbean islands in recent years: the development of the railroad system and rice production. The signing of the financing agreements took place on Monday, February 22 in Havana with the participation of high-ranking officials of the Cuban government and the Asian giant’s institution.
The two financing lines granted by the Export and Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) will enable Cuba to purchase 240 railroad coaches for the transportation of passengers and medium- and high-power tractors of the YTO Chinese trademark for the production of rice.
The agreements were signed in the Finance and Prices Ministry of Cuba (MFP) by Exim Bank Vice President Xie Ping and Finance and Prices Deputy Minister Félix Martínez.
The Cuban government has given priority to investments to get rice production back on its feet, one of the basic foodstuffs in Cuba’s nutritional culture. Through the handing over of resources and improved prices for farmers, the cereal’s harvests had expanded. But they faced obstacles with the strong drought that hit the country in 2015. Judging by the government’s preliminary reports, it was one of the crops that suffered the most damages.
Last year 87,000 tons of the cereal were not harvested in this nation, out of the planned 252 tons, the general director of the Grains Agribusiness Group of the Agriculture Ministry, LázaroDíaz Rodríguez, told the Cuban News Agency (ACN).
Though he referred to the climate effects as the principal cause of the non-fulfilment, Díaz also mentioned the lack of spare parts for farming equipment. This is why the granting of this credit by China, a country that has assumed the advisory work in and active backing of Cuban rice production, has come at a timely moment.
Deputy Minister Martínez reported that the recent financing agreements have been added to other joint projects with China linked to strategic programmes, like those related to the construction of the multipurpose terminal in the port of Santiago de Cuba and previously for the purchase of the cranes for the Mariel megaport.
Trade and economic relations between China and Cuba have expanded strongly in recent years through Chinese cooperation and investment agreements. In 2014, during an official visit to Havana, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed around 30 agreements in key areas for joint development.
China is Cuba’s second largest trade partner, with a commercial exchange of goods that remained at more than 1.6 billion dollars per year, according to the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) of Cuba. (2016)
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