International Herald Tribune
The Associated Press
Published: December 31, 2007
HAVANA: Trade between Cuba and China grew by 23 percent to more than US$2 billion (€1.4 billion) in 2007, solidifying China's place as the communist-run island's second-largest economic benefactor behind oil-rich Venezuela.
China is Cuba's second-largest trading partner and the top importer of Cuban products, especially nickel and sugar, Cuba's official news agency Prensa Latina reported Monday from Beijing, without giving exact figures.
In 2006, trade between the two countries totaled US$1.8 billion (€1.2 billion) — double that of 2005, China's ambassador to Havana said in March.
Chinese consumer goods are increasingly common on the island, and hundreds of Chinese-made buses and trains have helped ease chronic transportation problems, especially on long-distance routes.
The Cuban government has also distributed new Chinese appliances on credit to families, in an effort to reduce the amount of energy consumed by the hulking, decades-old Russian-made refrigerators and stoves once commonplace here.
Cuba-China trade figures also include billions of dollars (euros) in favorable credits Beijing has extended Havana in recent years, which has seen the island's debt levels soar.
Trade between Venezuela and Cuba has reached US$7 billion (€4.7 billion) a year, much of it in the form of the 92,000 barrels of oil a day Venezuela provides the island for Cuban doctors providing medical care and other social services.