Cuba has signed a bilateral trade deal on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Medellin, agreeing not to impose tariffs on more than 2,000 Colombian products, including agricultural goods, construction materials and textiles.
Colombia is hopeful that the deal would pave the way for increasing agricultural exports to the communist island, while Cuba appears to be keen on attracting Colombian tourists and exporting pharmaceutical goods.
The trade agreement underscores the communist island’s interest in increasing commerce with other countries. Bilateral commercial ties between the two countries already exist, but were valued at only $70 million last year.
Cuba concedes that it imports more than it exports to Colombia, but hopes that the deal would open up new opportunities for companies in both countries. Reports say the countries’ investment promotion agencies, ProColombia and Procuba, are also discussing ways to exchange information on investment opportunities.
Today, international trade in goods and services accounts for about 45% of Cuba’s economy. But the communist country’s economic fortunes will soon change, because the United States has lifted most of the sanctions it had imposed, including the one on commercial flights.
Cuba has trade agreements with regional trade organizations and countries, most notably Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. As a member of Aladi – a Latin American association designed to foster economic integration – Cuba receives discounts on tariffs for products it exports, according to the Wall Street Journal.
These days, Cuba is also permitting its own people to expand private businesses, and working hard to provide Internet access to everyone. With the US continuing to ease travel restrictions, Cuba’s tourism will likely to boom in the months to come.