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Belarus puts forward cooperation proposals to Cuba

MINSK (BelTA) – Cuba will never be disappointed by cooperation with Belarus, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at an extended-participation meeting with Cuban President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez on 23 October, BelTA has learned.

“Everything we will agree on today will be fulfilled to the letter,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

He noted that Belarus was one of the first countries Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez visited in the capacity of the president. “This attests to your interest in our country, which is a reliable and time-tested partner and friend,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Cuba is also a reliable partner of Belarus in Latin America. “Our countries are united by common views on topical issues of the international agenda and constructive joint work at various international forums,” the head of state emphasized.

On staying true to beliefs

“Cuba has always been and remains an example of courage, perseverance and devotion to its cause,” the president said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Belarus, just like Cuba, condemns the use of unilateral restrictive measures in politics and trade. “We believe that such actions run afoul of the law, undermine trust and lead to the escalation of tensions,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

On reforms in Cuba

The Belarusian head of state noted that Minsk is closely watching the groundbreaking political transformations in Cuba that are broadly supported by the public.

“I am convinced that the new Constitution formalizing the achievements of the Cuban revolution will become a solid foundation for sustainable and fast development for many years to come,” the president said.

On Belarus-Cuba cooperation

Agriculture has always been one of the drivers of bilateral cooperation. “Cuban agricultural producers often come to Belarus and they are always welcome here. We are ready to share our best practices, expertise and technology that are of interest to you. This also pertains to farm machines that have been well known in the Island of Freedom since the Soviet times,” the Belarusian leader.

“Being fully aware of the importance of Belarusian goods for Cuba, we decided to grant loans to finance supplies on exceptionally favorable terms amidst a rather difficult situation we were going through. This enabled us to implement a number of interesting joint projects,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

A series of contracts worth over €30 million has already been executed. These contracts dealt not only with agriculture. An agreement was signed to supply Belarusian lathes to Cuba; talks are underway to set up a joint venture to produce household appliances.

There are good cooperation prospects in information technology. “We have developed a legal framework for this sector using the world's best practices; digital infrastructure is rapidly developing,” the head of state said.

In order to facilitate the uptake of technology, best practices and knowledge, Belarus is improving is education system. The president invites Cuba to utilize the educational potential of the two countries using the principles of complementarity.

On strategic partnership

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the analysis of bilateral trade suggests huge underutilized capacity. “Therefore, we have agreed that government members will develop a roadmap, an action plan for a short-term perspective, till my next visit to Cuba. We will be able to take stock of the implementation of these documents during my visit,” the president said.

“I am convinced that today we will find ways to remove the existing barriers and to upgrade our economic ties to the level of strategic partnership,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state emphasized that everything is in place for the two countries to keep moving forward. There is a well-developed manufacturing base, expertise and knowledge, technology, as well as political will, mutual understanding and support of the heads of state.

He expressed confidence that the Minsk talks will help promote Belarus-Cuba dialogue in various fields and will pave the way for new cooperation agreements.

According to statistics, Belarus-Cuba trade has been on the decline in recent years. In 2018 the trade amounted to $16.9 million (or 28% as against 2017); Belarus' export stood at $15.3 million (or 70.5% as against 2017) and the import amounted to $1.6 million (4.1%). The export was dominated by conventional engines, spare parts and accessories to vehicles and tractors, tires, trailers and semi-trailers. Belarus mostly imported medicines and liquors.