Cuba eyes India help to kick start sugar mills

Cuba is seeking India’s assistance to modernise its sugar mills after the end of the US trade embargo, its envoy to New Delhi said, ahead of a planned visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September.

India and Cuba are both members of NAM but commercial ties were limited due to the US sanctions on the communist country.

But Modi, who will attend the NAM summit in Venezuela, is expected to lay the ground for a bigger commercial relationship with Cuba in various sectors including pharmaceutical, healthcare and transport.

Cuba’s ambassador to India Oscar I Martínez Cordovés told FE in an interview that sugar was the most important product in Cuban economy. “Earlier we had 160 sugar mills. But we had to reduce the numbers due to the American embargo. Now, we are looking at India to help us modernise these sugar mills.”

To meet its increasing gold demand, India could also explore opportunities in getting gold from that country as well as seek joint co-operations in copper, nickel and cobalt mining operations.

“There are several areas where the two countries can cooperate. With a new container port in the expanded Panama Canal and with plans to have a special economic zone, Cuba can be a gateway to not only Central America, but to the US and the Caribbean. Logistically we are located at the best place,” the envoy said.

The Modi visit to that country could show what Cuba has to offer in the health sector, including high level medical education, bio-tech and pharmaceuticals.
“Besides tourism, both countries can collaborate in various sectors like renewable energy, bio-technology, pharmaceuticals, Information Technology, etc.

We are seeking Indian investments in sectors like building and improving our infrastructure, agro business, IT, electronics, packaging industry and modernisation of the sugar industry,” Cordovés said.

As reported by FE earlier, during the Cuban first vice-president Miguel Diaz-Canel’s trip, a senior Indian diplomat had said: “This is the right time for India to step in and take advantage of the huge opportunities that are opening up in that country with a population of over 11 million.”

India has approved a Line of Credit (LOC) of $5 million for setting up a milk powder processing plant, another $2.712 million for setting up a Bulk Blending Fertiliser Plant project and $ 5.0492 million for modernisation of injectable products plant in Havana, the Cuban envoy added.

The government of Cuba has presented some projects to Indian government in sectors like milk products, wind energy and coal generation against the credit line provided by the government here.

Financial Express

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