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Cuba, Venezuela further strengthen economic ties

HAVANA, January 31, 2014 (AFP) – Cuba and Venezuela have moved to further strengthen economic ties, approving some 56 joint projects for this year valued at more than $1.2 billion, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced.

In an interview with Cuban state television late Thursday, Maduro said the agreements signed were in the areas of health, agriculture, energy, education and sport.

Venezuela is already by far Cuba’s number one economic partner, accounting for 40 percent of the island’s foreign trade.

It supplies Cuba with 100,000 barrels of oil a day at preferential terms, providing half its energy needs.

It is also the top client for services exported by Havana, including about 40,000 Cuban doctors and care professionals working in Venezuela.

Cuba and Venezuela “are building an economic zone along with ALBA,” Maduro said, referring to a bloc of eight left-leaning Latin American countries led by Caracas.

Maduro was in Cuba for a summit of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States, another Venezuelan initiative that drew leaders and representatives of 33 countries to a two-day gathering in Havana.

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