South Africa looks to grow trade relations with Cuba

South Africa seems to be wroking hard to grow trade relations with Cuba in what could be seen as a pay back gesture by the ANC government after receiving enormous support from the Cubans during the struggle against apartheid.

This could be read from the utterances of South Africa’s minister of trade and industry Rob Davies, speaking this week during the opening of the South African Pavilion at the 30th Havana International Fair in Cuba.

The role played by Cuba in the struggle against apartheid should not be forgotten, said Davies.

“We should never forget that the sacrifices that Cuba made were very instrumental in ensuring our own early transition to democracy in South Africa. If it had not been for the contributions and sacrifices that Cuba made to the battle of Cuito Cuanavale and the impact it had on Namibia Independence and Namibian Independence on transition to democracy in South Africa,  I think we might well find ourselves battling with the demon of apartheid for several more years and possibly a decade longer than we did. So we can never forget that”, he said.

Davies said that the relations between South Africa and Cuba are not just something that happened in the past.  ‘Cuba continues to provide training for SA doctors and provide vaccines that are used in the public health sector in SA and contributes to eradicating very serious diseases. The choice that Cuba made to develop a world class health sector is a direct outcome of the transition to socialism which Cuba underwent in the past. So I think we got a lot to be grateful to Cuba about’ said Davies.

Davies highlighted that trade and investment relations between the two countries was falling behind

“Our current levels of trade are extremely modest and in fact are lesser than they had been in the past. We have tried a number of things on various occasion but some of these things have not delivered the results. But I’m happy to say this year the 30th Havana International Fair anniversary is coinciding with the ratification of the agreement which was reached during the visit by president Zuma. We are providing Cuba with the R350 million Economic Assistance Package that we believe will turn around our trade and investment pattern” added Minister Davies.

The Economic Assistance Package is divided into three facilities:

·         Facility A consists of R40 million grant for the purchase of seeds by Cuba.

·         Facility B of the agreement of US$14 million (R100 million) solidarity grant which may not be paid to South Africa.

·         Facility C consists of R210 million for credit lines in two tranches of R70 million and R140

18 South African companies are exhibiting at the Havana International Fair. The sectors represented include capital equipment, electro-technical, mining, agro-processing, engineering and allied services, and metals.

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