Cuba and Australia expand economic cooperation

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez (R) and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop (L), shake hands after signing a memorandum of understanding between their respective countries, during a meeting in Havana, Cuba, June 30, 2017. EFE/ALEJANDRO ERNESTO

HAVANA, July 1th – The foreign ministers of Cuba and Australia agreed on Friday to establish a new mechanism to boost bilateral economic cooperation.

Bruno Rodriguez said that the memorandum he and Australian counterpart Julie Bishop signed provides for regular diplomatic consultations between the respective foreign ministries.

Hailing the existing “productive bilateral cooperation,” he said that Cuba has identified “areas of priority” for enhanced collaboration, such as mining, renewable energy, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, education, and sports.

Bishop said that Australia welcomes Cuba’s economic reforms, especially the decision to encourage greater foreign direct investment.

She pointed to her countries’ strengths in sectors including mining, energy, farming and agribusiness, infrastructure, and educational services.

In 2016, Cuba and Australia signed an agreement to restructure the island’s debt to Canberra within the framework of a multilateral arrangement between Havana and the Paris Club creditors.