President Castro to visit Belarus

Raul Castro will "soon" visit Belarus, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez announced during a visit to the East European nation.

During a three-day visit, Rodriguez met with President Alexandr Lukashenko and Foreign Minister Sergei Martinov.

Lukashenko said the two countries should revive joint biotechnology and tractor and automobile manufacturing projects that had been disrupted by the financial crisis. The president mentioned the possibility of setting up a joint venture to produce medicine in Cuba.

"I know the interest to create joint ventures for the assembly of tractors, automobiles and other equipment," Lukashenko said, according to Prensa Latina. "We are willing to approve projects to work in the Cuban market and that of neighboring nations such as Nicaragua."

"There's a lot of Belarus-manufactured machinery currently operated in Cuba - from tractors to buses," Martinov said during a press conference. "There is economic rationale in joint projects to maintain that machinery on the spot and market Belarusian machinery and technologies in the whole region, by virtue of the Cuban possibilities and position."

Lukashenko also mentioned the possibility of Belarus buying large quantities of sugar and cooperation to manufacture sugar.

Last year, Belarus officials proposed construction of a $200 million high-tech incubator facility in Havana. The project would allow technology companies from Belarus and elsewhere to tap into Cuban know-how and skills in information technology and software development, biotech and chemistry. The timeline is "five to six years," Valeri Tsepkalo, director of Belarus Hi-Tech Park, said in May last year.

In September, a Cuban trade delegation headed by Deputy Trade and Foreign Investment Minister Oscar Perez-Oliva Fraga toured dairy factories, a bus and a tractor plant, and a bottling plant in Belarus. During the visit, RUE Minsk Kristall, the country's largest vodka producer, agreed to import Cuban rum. Pharmaceuticals producer RUE Belmedpreparaty discussed the joint production in Belarus of drugs made by Havana-based CIMAB. The joint production of powdered milk was on the agenda during a tour of a dairy factory. Finally, bus and truck maker MAZ, which recently sold 100 urban buses to Cuba, talked about creation of a jointly operated warehouse.


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