|Jyotiraditya Scindia Holds Bilateral Meetings in CUBA Requests Early Renewal of OVL Contract and Proposes Equity for an Oil Refinery India Willing to Supply Buses for Cuban Transport System|
|Shri Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry led an official delegation to Havana, Cuba from July 11-13, 2012 for bilateral discussions with Cuban leaders for strengthening trade and investment ties between the two countries. He was accompanied by a business delegation coordinated by the Confederation of Indian Industries. On July 11, Shri Scindia had bilateral delegation level talks with the Cuban acting Minister of Foreign Relations Mr. Marcelino Medino during which the entire spectrum of India- Cuba relations was reviewed with the objective of adding more economic content to existing strong political and cultural ties. Shri Scindia complemented the Cuban Minister for impressive growth of around 5% of the Cuban economy at a time when most of the western economies have shrunk. The Cuban Foreign Minister reciprocated by expressing gratitude for India’s assistance in setting up a milk processing plant in Cuba through a US$5 million Line of Credit (LoC) and an additional LoC of US$ 125 million which are on the anvil. Shri Scindia desired that India and Cuba play a leading role in promoting principles such as South-South cooperation and development through inclusive growth.|
Shri Scindia stated that the economic complementarities between the two countries, if exploited properly, would enable manifold growth trade and economic relations and this, in turn, would promote inclusive growth in both countries and provide innumerable benefits to our people. Shri Scindia mentioned that energy and mining are the two sectors where Indian companies can participate in Cuba through investment in exploration, production, refining and marketing. In addition to ONGC Videsh Ltd., other public sector companies in oil sector are also keen to participate in Cuba. Shri Scindia talked about India’s position as a global supplier of good quality generic pharma products and identified this as a key area for enhancing bilateral economic engagements. Tourism, IT, renewable energy and sugar were also mentioned by him as other sectors where India is in a position to provide through suitable platforms expertise and knowhow for development of these sectors in Cuba.
Shri Scindia requested the Cuban Minister for Cuba’s participation in the India International trade fair in November 2012 and assured his support India’s participation in the Havana Trade Fair this year. The Cuban Minister was also requested by Shri Scindia to facilitate and expedite the request of OVL for extension of their contract in Cuba which is expiring in September 2012, simplification of visa process to avoid undue delay and multiple longer duration business visa and support for India’s candidature for the chairmanship of International Civil Aviation Organisation.
The next round of BIPA negotiations between India and Cuba are due in Delhi and the Cuban Minister was requested to suggest dates for holding the negotiations.
In another meeting with the External Trade and Investment Minister Mr. Rodrigo Malmierca, both sides expressed disappointment at the low level of annual bilateral trade at about US$ 40 million as it is way below the true potential, given the synergies of our economies. He stated that the presence of a large business delegation from India during this visit is reflection of India’s business community’s desire and commitment to engage with Cuba more intensely. Shri Scindia conveyed India’s willingness to provide knowhow and equity in setting up of a refinery on the Cuba’s western coast. In particular, he suggested development of tourism sector in Cuba as it offers great potential both in terms of revenue as well as employment generation. He also offered support in setting up railway and airport projects in Cuba as Indian companies have acquired considerable experience in these areas.
Mentioning India’s emergence as a major producer of world class automobile products, Shri Scindia conveyed India’s desire to collaborate with Cuba in this sector including possible supply of buses for facilitating urban transport in Cuba. The Cuban Minister suggested joint research by the two countries in pharma and bio technology sector by establishing institutional arrangements. He also expressed strong desire to promote cooperation with India in the field of hotel management.
The Minister of State also had a meeting with the First Vice Minister of Basic Industries of Cuba and they discussed ways to promote cooperation in the core sectors such as Energy and Mining. Shri Scindia strongly urged renewal of license to OVL for exploration of oil and gas in Cuba. Responding to this, the Cuban Minister confirmed that this request in under consideration of the Cuban Government and decision in this regard is expected shortly. The Cuban side sought Indian expertise and knowhow for exploitation of critical minerals such as nickel, cobalt and tungsten available in Cuba. Shri Scindia suggested a dedicated delegation from India to discuss issues for cooperation in these sectors.
Shri Scindia, along with his official and business delegation also participated in a business event, which saw wide-ranging participation by business entities from both sides and representatives from the Cuban Government. The business entities present covered sectors like ICT, power, irrigation, fire protection, oil and gas, polymers and plastics, automotives, pharmaceuticals, tourism, aviation and water treatment. Representatives from CII were also present. In addition to Shri Scindia, the gathering of about 300 persons was addressed by H.E., Mr. Orlando Hernandez Guillen, First Vice Minister for Foreign Trade and Investment, Ms. Estrella Madnigal, President, Cuban Chambers of Commerce and Mr. Inderdeep Singh, leader of the Indian business delegation and Chairman, CII National Committee on ICTE manufacturing. All speakers strongly supported Shri Scindia’s observations which stressed the huge potential for promoting trade and investment between India and Cuba, which quickly needed to be tapped. He mentioned that in the course of a short visit he had been overwhelmed by the tourist potential of the breathtaking natural beauty and the rich architectural heritage of Havana, which had been beautifully preserved. He urged encouragement of investment in the sector to achieve this potential, in which Indian companies could participate, given their global prowess across 70 countries. In the context of renewable energy he mentioned that India today had the largest wind power company in the world. He mentioned that India’s prowess in the automotives sector across both two-wheelers and four-wheelers, made it one of the foremost economies in this sector. He mentioned that India’s telecom revolution leading to 919 mobile phones today starting from a level of zero in 1993, was a pointer towards another area of meaningful cooperation. He stressed that the foundations of this cooperation would be facilitated by steps like early finalization of the BIPA between the two countries, mutual participation in trade fairs in both countries and greater emphasis on focused sectoral business delegations.