SA, Cuba trade ‘below potential’

6 November 2012

There is plenty of room for improvement in the levels of trade and investment between South Africa and Cuba, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said at the opening of the South African Pavilion at the 30th Havana International Fair in Cuba on Sunday.

Eighteen South African companies are exhibiting at the Fair, representing the capital equipment, electro-technical, mining, agro-processing, engineering and metals sectors.

Davies noted that the current levels of trade between the two countries were extremely modest and below what they had been in the past, despite a number of interventions by both governments.

“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 [2010 state] visit by President Zuma.”

R350m assistance package

South Africa is providing Cuba with a R350-million economic assistance package that Davies believes could help to turn the country’s trade and investment pattern around.

The package comprises a R40-million grant for the purchase of seeds by Cuba, a R100-million solidarity grant, and credit lines of R70-million and R140-million.

Davies said that Cuba continued to provide training for South African doctors, as well as vaccines that were used in South Africa’s public health sector.

He added that South Africans should never forget the sacrifices made by Cuba in helping the country in its transition to democracy.

“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 Namibian Independence, and [the effect] Namibian Independence had on the 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,” Davies said.