The year 2020 is a very special year for the people of Vietnam and Cuba - celebrating the 60th anniversary of establishing the diplomatic relations between the two countries (2/12/1960-2/12/2020). Over 60 years of the history of the two nations, the special friendship between Vietnam and Cuba has become stronger thanks to the foundation and nurture of many generations of leaders of Vietnam and Cuba. That relationship was initiated by Cuban and Vietnamese national heroes José Martí, President Ho Chi Minh and President Fidel Castro; and has so far become a symbol of the times. From the past, The Vietnamese can not forget the image of the beloved leader Fidel Castro in the battlefield of Quang Tri province and his immortal saying: "For Vietnam, Cuba is ready to give its blood".
Talking about the relationship between Vietnam and Cuba, many generations of Vietnamese leaders have the same comment: "There is no precedent in international relations". And indeed, over 60 years, the cooperation between the two countries has been constantly nurtured and developed in all fields from politics to economy, trade, culture, physical training - sports, science - technology,... and also in the field of security and defense.
During the hot war time in Vietnam, the Party, the State and the Cuban people gave their positive support to the Party, the State and the people of Vietnam. The emotional event was a historic visit by Leader Fidel Castro, the first and only foreign head of state to the Quang Tri province as "a land of fire" in September 1973. The visit had become a great source of cheering for vietnamese troops and people to make more efforts and determination to complete the struggle for liberation of the South and reunification of the country. During this period, Cuba also devoted much of its resources, although the country also faced many difficulties, to help Vietnam through some programs such as: human resource training, sponsoring sugar, medicines, vehicles, medical supplies, construction of several key projects in Northern Vietnam, upgrading Truong Son road and some other important roads to serve the struggle for national reunification.
After the war, when the whole country stepped on the construction and development process, in the context of blockage and embargo by hostile foreign forces, Cuba continued to share and help Vietnam in all fields to overcome difficulties and protect its independence and territorial integrity. As Vietnam undertook the Doi Moi course and Cuba fell into a particularly difficult period due to external sanctions, Vietnam shared resources and supported the Cuban people to overcome challenges, expressing solidarity and faithfullness as done in the first time for the Cuban people through cooperation programs that help Cuba gradually to have its autonomy, ensuring food security. Recently, in the context of the Covid-19 outbreak and complex developments in the world, Viet Nam has supported material including essential medical equipment and currency for the prevention of Covid-19 in Cuba. The Cuba also sent a delegation of doctors with extensive anti-epidemic experience to support vietnam's medical manpower.
In terms of trade exchange, according to data of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in 2019, the total import and export turnover of two-way reached 226.81 million USD, of which Vietnam exported to Cuba 221.62 million USD, imported 5.19 million USD. In the first 10 months of 2020, the total import and export turnover of two-way reached 102 million USD, of which Vietnam exported 100 million USD and imported 2 million USD. In terms of the structure of import and export trading items between two countries has focused on food, food, spices, building materials, clothing, footwear, vaccines, pharmaceuticals... In particular, Vietnam's main exported products to Cuba are mainly: rice, coffee, chemical products, textiles, shoes, computers and components, building materials, ceramics, machinery and equipment, spare parts... The imported items are vaccines and pharmaceuticals.
For Tien Giang, the process of cooperation with Cuba took place very early. From the first year after the liberation, the Vietnam - Cuba Friendship Association of Tien Giang Province was formed, at the same time as the former Vietnam - Soviet Union Friendship Association. Regarding the delegation exchanges, in recent years, there were 02 provincial delegations led by the Provincial Secretary and the Chairman of the Provincial People's Council to visit and work in Cuba. On the Cuban side, almost in every term, there have been ambassadors and general consuls to visit and work with the Provincial People's Committee to strengthen cooperation in the field of promoting investment, import and export of goods. Recently in the middle of December 2018, Ms. Indira Lopez Arguelles - New Consul General of Cuba in Ho Chi Minh City visited and worked with the Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee. After the visit, the Cuban side has requested the province to cooperate in the field of supply and processing of aquatic feed, biotechnology, medical examination and treatment, information technology, consulting on construction of bridges and roads, tourism attraction...
In terms of import and export of goods, according to data from the Provincial Department of Industry and Trade, the trade turnover between provincial enterprises and Cuban partners is still quite limited to only about 60,000 USD. In terms of investment, so far there have been no Cuban enterprises to have investment in the province and on the contrary, there also have been no enterprises of the province invested in Cuba. In terms of attracting tourists it is not good enough, maybe because of the geographical distance and the poor tourism marketing policy from the two sides. In order to strengthen cooperation between the province and its Cuban partners in the coming time, it is expected that the two sides will hold a conference to connect cooperation between Tien Giang and the Mekong delta provinces with Cuban partners at an appropriate time when the epidemic passes over.
On the national level, in the coming time, according to Ambassador Lianys Torres Rivera, in order to cultivate relations between the two countries, Cuba and Vietnam should prioritize strengthening cooperation in the field of economy - trade based on the mechanism of the Inter-Government Committee on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation. In terms of potentials, Cuba and Vietnam can promote cooperation in fields such as agriculture, construction, transportation, tourism, culture, health, food industry, energy, information technology. Cuba is ready to support the Vietnamese business community to find opportunities to develop in the Cuban market and implement investment projects. Currently, Vietnamese companies specializing in the production of building materials and necessities are present in the Mariel Development Zone (ZEDM) of Cuba.
The Cuban government is constantly improving the business environment, focusing on improving legal mechanisms to attract foreign investment, including establishing a one-stop-shop mechanism for foreign investment. According to the Ambassador, both countries are also striving for more Vietnamese products to appear in the Cuban market and continue to promote the export of Cuban medicines and biotechnology products to Vietnam. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, we are confident that Cuba and Vietnam will continue to develop comprehensive cooperation in many fields based on the tradition of friendship between the two peoples and special political relations between the two countries./.
Translated by the Department of Foreign Affairs