Italy seeks closer economic ties with Cuba, says vice FM

Source:Xinhua Published: 2019/2/16 13:40:44

Visiting Italian Vice Foreign Minister Ricardo Merlo said Friday that Italy is seeking closer economic ties with Cuba.

"We see a continuity in the government that is making qualitative changes to adapt the country to current times. Both nations will be able to increase their bilateral cooperation," Merlo told reporters after launching the Havana office of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.

"New Italian companies will invest in this island," he said, adding the office will serve to support bilateral cooperation projects.
Newcomers will be in addition to the more than 50 Italian businesses currently working in the Caribbean island state on major economic and social development projects, said Merlo, who arrived here Thursday to attend the annual meeting of political consultations between the two foreign ministries.

"Foreign investment is encouraged by local authorities in a positive way," he said, adding that for Italian companies seeking new business opportunities, "Cuba is undoubtedly a very important country to invest in."

During his visit, Merlo has met with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, and Vice President of the Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas on bilateral ties and the potential for increasing economic ties.

According to Mariarosa Stevan, head of the Havana office of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, bilateral cooperation amounts to some 20 million euros (22.5 million US dollars) in sectors such as agriculture, food security and culture.

The most ambitious project, based in eastern Cuba, is intended to enhance the quality of Arabica coffee, she said.

Italy is Cuba's eighth biggest trading partner overall and the second in the European Union after Spain.


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