HAVANA — Cuba will intensify its economic ties with China, having met payments on its debt with Beijing, its second largest trade partner, Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas announced on Thursday.
Speaking on state-run television, Cabrisas said Cuba is committed to "strict compliance of our financial obligations with China, including those related to the rescheduling of our debt."
Cabrisas, who gave no details about the size of Cuba's debt with China, made his remarks after the conclusion Wednesday of the latest round of bilateral trade talks.
China's growing investment in Cuba can be seen in the context of helping Cuba's domestic development, the minister said.
"We are heading into a higher stage (of investment) as part of our social and economic development plan for our country," Cabrisas said.
Beijing's Minister for Commerce Chen Deming, who represented China at the talks, said Cuba's payments towards its debt had "contributed to the restoration of confidence" between the two trade partners.
China is Cuba's second biggest trade partner after Venezuela. Their bilateral trade in 2011 was $1.9 billion, with about two-thirds of that balance in China's favor. Trade reached $870 million for the first half of this year.
The deal covers 10 joint enterprises -- six in Cuba, four in China -- in several areas, including farming, light industry and tourism.
The agreement also will allow Havana to obtain replacement parts for thousands of trains, buses cars and trucks purchased from China in 2006 by then-President Fidel Castro. Another important project involves China's assistance with construction at Cuba's key port of Mariel, news reports here said.
Havana exports primarily commodities to China such as sugar and nickel, as well as some biotechnology products.
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