HAVANA – The leader of the ruling Communist Party of Cuba and the Cuban president, Raul Castro and Miguel Diaz-Canel, respectively, met on Tuesday with Vietnam’s vice president Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh to discuss the increasingly closer bilateral relations and agreements between the two socialist nations during the latter’s visit to the Caribbean country.
Castro, Diaz-Canel and Ngoc Thinh spoke of stronger ties between the people, parties and governments of the two countries during the meeting, according to a report by the island-nation’s state broadcaster.
On Monday, the Vietnamese vice president began an official visit to Cuba as a part of regular political, economic and trade contacts between the two countries.
As part of her agenda, Ngoc Thinh visited the Mariel Special Development Zone, the Cuban government’s flagship initiative to attract foreign investment, where Vietnam has several projects in place.
The vice president toured the agro-industrial grain company Los Palacios, in the western province of Pinar del Rio, where Vietnam provides funding and training in a project to increase average rice yields by 30 percent.
Ngoc Thinh said that this collaboration would contribute towards ensuring Cuba’s food security.
Vietnam exports rice to Cuba, which seeks to reach a production of about 600,000 tons per year. Rice is among the products with the highest demand on the island.
Ngoc Thinh’s visit came on the heels of the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phan Binh Minh last May, who was also received by Castro and Diaz-Canel.
An agreement was signed between the foreign ministries for the period 2020-2022 to strengthen political dialogue on issues of interest in the bilateral and multilateral sphere.
Cuba and Vietnam seek to double their volume of bilateral trade, according to the governments of the two countries.
Vietnam is Cuba’s second-largest trading partner in Asia, behind China, with bilateral exchanges amounting to $340 million in 2018, which could rise to $500 million by 2022, according to official projections.
Areas where Cuba and Vietnam have – or seek to have – joint projects and investments include the food industry, renewable energy, science and technology, justice and production of consumer goods and construction materials.
Vietnam exports rice, coal, chemicals, textiles and electronics to Cuba, while it imports pharmaceuticals from the island.