Venezuela, Cuba reinforce trade ties
Both Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez are determined to show that
initialization of an agreement to launch the so-called Bolivarian
Alternative for the Americas -their alternative to the US-sponsored Free
Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)- is more than a symbolic gesture.
The Venezuelan ruler, through the state-run banks Banco de Comercio
Exterior (Bancoex) and Banco Industrial de Venezuela, is funding
Venezuelan firms willing to engage in exports to Cuba, while Castro has
started replacing imports from other countries to allow entry of
“Cuba is considering a plan to substitute imports and import from
Venezuela rather than from other countries, with prior assessment of
quality and prices, of course. President Castro himself has become the
architect of this policy. He has Venezuelan goods in his office,” said
Gustavo Márquez, Venezuelan minister for Integration and Foreign
Commerce, who is also the head of Bancoex.
In this way, ALBA is making some concrete progress.
Through Bancoex, Venezuela has disbursed in June 2005-March 2006 the
equivalent to USD 231.9 million to fund both Venezuelan exporters and
Four Cuban financial institutions are granting loans to Cuban public
firms purchasing goods from Venezuelan companies. Such Cuban financial
institutions undertake to repay the loans to Bancoex.
By the end of June, said Márquez, 151 Venezuelan firms have been granted
loans for exports of products to Cuba, and they have repaid timely.
Further, Cuba-based Banco Industrial de Venezuela office is granting
loans to Cuban importers. “We have granted USD 23 million, with USD 8.8
million actually delivered,” said Luis Quiaro, Banco Industrial’s president.