New prospects for Vietnam-Cuba economic cooperation

09:55 | 12/04/2018 Cooperation

(VEN) - Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong led a high-ranking delegation on a state visit to the Republic of Cuba from March 28-31. The visit reflected the solidarity, mutual trust and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries. 

new prospects for vietnam cuba economic cooperation
Vietnam Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong (middle) during his visit to Cuba from March 28-31

Strengthening solidarity

Bilateral relations between Vietnam and the island nation have progressed in recent years, especially since President Tran Dai Quang visited Cuba in November 2016. Political ties have reached a new high, reflecting strong mutual trust between the two sides. Both countries have affirmed their determination to promote economic relations to make them commensurate with the bilateral political ties.

According to Vietnamese Ambassador to Cuba Nguyen Trung Thanh, this was General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s second visit to Cuba since he became head of the Vietnam Communist Party (the first visit was in 2012), and his fifth visit to this country.

Cooperation between Vietnam and Cuba has expanded in a wide range of fields, but both agree there is room for further development. The two countries have cooperated effectively in agriculture, healthcare, biotechnology, construction and justice. The journalism sectors of the two countries have benefited from the cooperation agreements signed between media organizations. Each year, many Vietnamese students go to Cuba for training courses in different fields, while Cuban students learn Vietnamese language and culture at the Hanoi University.

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit to Cuba offered leaders of the two countries a chance to reaffirm their desire to develop the traditional solidarity built and cultivated by President Ho Chi Minh, Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and generations of Vietnamese and Cuban leaders and people.

Vietnam continues supporting the revolutionary cause of the Cuban people, especially the updating of their socioeconomic model, to build Cuba into a prosperous and sustainable socialist nation.

Increasing bilateral trade

Vietnamese Ambassador to Cuba Nguyen Trung Thanh believes the visit will open great prospects for bilateral relations, especially economic ties and trade. The conclusion of negotiations on the new trade agreement between the two countries, as well as cooperation deals in other fields, is expected to contribute to doubling annual bilateral trade to US$500 million by 2020.

In 2016, trade between Vietnam and Cuba reached US$249.8 million, a rise of 14.6 percent compared with 2015. Last year, bilateral trade reached US$224.3 million. Goods traded between Vietnam and Cuba include food, foodstuff, spices, construction materials, clothing, footwear, vaccines and pharmaceuticals. Rice continues to be a key Vietnamese export to Cuba, accounting for more than 60 percent of export value to that country.

The two countries are especially pleased with the outcome of agricultural cooperation projects, which have helped Cuba increase crop yields. Rice yield, for example, has increased from two tonnes to 4.5 tonnes per hectare or even 7 tonnes per hectare in some places. Maize yield is up from 1.5 tonnes to four tonnes per hectare and soybean from 0.2-0.5 tonnes to 1.5 tonnes per hectare. The results have contributed greatly to Cuba’s efforts to become self-sufficient in terms of food and ensure food security.

Vietnam currently is Cuba’s second largest trading partner in Asia and Oceania, and a major rice supplier. Vietnam ensures sufficient rice supplies for the Cuban people not only by exporting but also by implementing donation and food security programs.

Vietnamese businesses have urged the two governments to sign cooperation agreements and create favorable conditions for them to develop investment projects in Cuba in the fields of agricultural production, consumer goods, construction materials, seafood catch and processing, hotel construction, tourism services, clean energy, communications, healthcare and biopharmaceuticals. The Cuban side has advantages in medical services, producing and exporting high-quality pharmaceuticals, and infrastructure construction consultancy and supervision.

Thanh Tam