Services, infrastructure are vital to trade growth
Caribbean island offers more investment opportunities for Chinese companies
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.