On the Official Visit of Belarus’ Prime Minister to Cuba

Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Sidorsky made an official visit to Cuba on April 20-23. The Belarusian governmental delegation included heads of several ministries, concerns and leading Belarusian enterprises.

On 21 April, Mr. Sidorsky met with President of the State Council and the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba Fidel Castro Ruz. Belarus’ Prime Minister also had meetings with President of the Cuban parliament Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers and Vice President of the State Council Carlos Lage Dávila.

During the visit, Belarus and Cuba signed and initialled several agreements. In particular, the Belarusian BelTA and the Latin American Prensa Latina news agencies signed a cooperation agreement aimed at facilitating information exchange, organizing exchange programs for journalists.

The Belarusian delegation held a number of bilateral meetings with Cuban businessmen to coordinate concrete projects for promoting Belarusian machinery in Cuba and creating conditions for building up the bilateral turnover.

Belarus has been invited to take part in the summit of the Non-Align Movement (NAM) Member States in autumn 2006 in Havana. This meeting will give a new impetus to the NAM. Belarus views this work as very important, according to Belarus’ Prime Minister.

Cuba is a stable political partner of Belarus in the international arena. The two countries\' views on key political issues coincide. Belarus and Cuba actively cooperate and render assistance to each other within the framework of the UN, Non-Aligned Movement and other international organisations.

The official visit of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to Cuba in 2000 boosted the interstate cooperation. The signing of an agreement on friendly relations and cooperation was among the important results of the visit.

On the whole, 17 intergovernmental and interagency agreements on cooperation in trade and economy, healthcare, culture, certification, and consular relations have been signed.

Cuba is one of Belarus’ major trade partners in Latin America. In 2005, the trade turnover with Cuba amounted to USD 20,254 million having slumped down to 55.1 per cent as against 2004 due to the reduction of Cuban imports from USD 29,8 million in 2004 down to USD 7 million in 2005. The Belarusian exports to Cuba increased up to USD 13,2 million (up by 91.3 per cent) due to the sales of Belarusian MAZ and BelAZ trucks. For the first time Mogilev Automobile Plant sold its new products to Cuba – mining road-trains and scrapers. Supplies of tractors went up by 170 per cent, automobile bodies – 100 per cent, engine parts – nearly 200 per cent. As a result, Belarus had a foreign trade surplus at the value of USD 6,1 million.

In January-February 2006, Belarus-Cuba bilateral trade reached USD 1,864 million having soared by 82.4 per cent from the same period in 2005. Belarusian exports to Cuba also raced up by 80 per cent to make up USD 1,848 million.

Over the two months of 2006 there was a growing tendency of exporting machine-engineering products to Cuba. Thus, Cuba bought USD 929.700 worth of trucks, USD 376.900 and USD 115.000 worth of engines and tractors respectively. A contract for delivery of 100 MAZ cabs-over in 2006 was concluded.

At present the transport sector of the Cuban economy is being upgraded. Mass procurements of vehicles and service equipment are underway. A special commission determining future suppliers of the equipment in question was set up. It pays particular attention to MAZ and BelAZ vehicles as well as the production of the Mogilev Automobile Plant.

Belarus has a range of big sugar refineries. “In this respect we would like to intensify raw sugar deliveries from Cuba to Belarus without involving third countries”, Sergei Sidorsky said. Other promising projects in the sphere of trade in Belarusian goods, in particular, dried milk, fabrics and clothes, are to be implemented.