Cuba-Venezuela trade to reach $7 bn

By Prensa Latina

Santiago de Cuba (Cuba) : Bilateral trade between Cuba and Venezuela is expected to touch the $7-billion mark this year, Cuban Vice-president Carlos Lage said in this capital city of eastern Cuban province of the same name.

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Lage noted that trade between the two countries rose from $388 million in 1998 when bilateral trade started to worth more than $1.5 billion in 2007 and added that a larger field of cooperation was opening up.

He said the two countries have agreed on 27 joint ventures, including the first phase of the enlargement of the Petrocaribe oil refinery in the central-southern province of Cienfuegos which is a part of a larger South American integration movement.

As many as 39,000 Cubans are currently working in Venezuela, of them nearly 31,000 are working in health services, he said.

In addition, over 3,500 young Venezuelans are studying medicine at various Cuban medical schools, Lage said.

The Cuban vice president called Petrocaribe integrationist initiative “an exceptional event in history,” given the easy payment terms for regional countries.

Lage also recalled other integrationist and solidarity actions encouraged by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, such as “UnaSur” and the Bank of the South.

Among the agreements signed between the two countries, eight are institutional agreements while tree deals are financial and another three are joint-venture accords covering the chemical, petrochemical, agricultural, food and fisheries industries.