Ser­vices, in­fra­struc­ture are vi­tal to trade growth

Caribbean is­land of­fers more in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for Chi­nese com­pa­nies

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHONG­NAN zhong­nan@chi­

The fu­ture of China-Cuba busi­ness ties will be de­cided by the fast-grow­ing ser­vices sec­tor and trade in in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, of­fi­cials and in­dus­try ex­perts said.

With this in mind, the two na­tions have agreed to step up co­op­er­a­tion in tourism, biotech­nol­ogy, min­ing and in­fra­struc­ture projects to en­sure growth re­mains ro­bust.

“Cuba’s in­creas­ing de­mand for ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture projects is cre­at­ing many op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said Zhi Luxun, deputy di­rec­tor of the Min­istry of Com­merce’s Depart­ment of For­eign Trade.

Ea­ger to di­ver­sify its earn­ing power, the Caribbean is­land is giv­ing for­eign com­pa­nies more ac­cess to carry out trade and in­vest­ment ac­tiv­i­ties, es­pe­cially in sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment projects that boost its ur­ban­iza­tion and in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion.

Zhi said even though both the Chi­nese and Cuban economies have been af­fected by the global economic down­turn, the de­gree of in­ter­de­pen­dence be­tween the two re­mains sta­ble in bi­lat­eral trade.

Trade be­tween China and Cuba was worth $1.6 bil­lion in the first three quar­ters of 2015, up by 57 per­cent year-on-year, ac­cord­ing to data from the Min­istry of Com­merce.

It means China is now the is­land’s sec­ond-largest trad­ing part­ner af­ter Venezuela, with Chi­nese ex­ports reach­ing $1.33 bil­lion in the first three quar­ters of 2015, up by 82.4 per­cent.

Cuba mostly ships to­bacco, sugar, nickel and aquatic and agri­cul­tural prod­ucts to China. Go­ing the other way are pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles, con­struc­tion ma­chin­ery, elec­tron­ics, gar­ments and light­ing prod­ucts.

China and Cuba signed sev­eral agree­ments last month aimed at deep­en­ing bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion. Zhang Xiangchen, the Min­istry of Com­merce’s deputy in­ter­na­tional trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive, and Cuba’s min­is­ter of for­eign trade and in­vest­ment, Ro­drigo Malmierca, signed doc­u­ments on joint projects in telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, in­dus­try and wa­ter re­sources in Ha­vana.

“More Chi­nese com­pa­nies have shown a strong in­ter­est in par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Ha­vana In­ter­na­tional Fair in re­cent years to reach more mar­ket growth points in Cuba, where com­pe­ti­tion with ri­vals from home and abroad is rel­a­tively low,” said He Jing­tong, a pro­fes­sor of trade pol­icy at Nankai Univer­sity in Tian­jin.

Th­ese com­pa­nies are mostly re­lated to the au­to­mo­tive sec­tor, home ap­pli­ances, ma­chin­ery and light in­dus­try, he added.

In Shan­dong prov­ince, Shan­tui Con­struc­tion Ma­chin­ery Co Ltd has stepped up its ef­forts to form ties with lo­cal deal­er­ships and ex­pand its mar­ket pres­ence in Cuba.

Li Dianhe, the com­pany’s deputy gen­eral man­ager, said Chi­nese firms such as China Har­bor En­gi­neer­ing Co and Power Con­struc­tion Corp of China are now in­volved in power sta­tion and port projects on the is­land, while con­struc­tion ma­chin­ery is needed to de­velop min­ing, har­ness for­est re­sources and for hy­dro­elec­tric­ity projects and roads.

He said Shan­tui has been sell­ing ex­ca­va­tors, bull­doz­ers, pipe-lay­ers, road rollers and wheel load­ers in Cuba for more than three years.

Feng Yaox­i­ang, a spokesman for the China Coun­cil for the Pro­mo­tion of In­ter­na­tional Trade, said com­pared with pre­vi­ous years, it is now prac­ti­cal for Chi­nese com­pa­nies to give full play to trade, in­vest­ment and fi­nance re­lated to in­fra­struc­ture projects in Cuba, as well as in other parts of the Caribbean.

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