HAVANA, 23th November, 2016 (WAM)–Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy (MoE), has discussed ways to enhance economic relations and raise the level of trade and investments with Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Vice President of the Council of Ministers and the Minister of Economy and Planning of Cuba.

The meeting was held on Monday at the Cuban capital, Havana, as part of a visit to Cuba by a sizeable UAE delegation led by Al Mansouri and included Bader Abdullah Saeed Al Matrooshi, UAE Ambassador to the Republic of Cuba; Juma Mohammed Al Kait, Assistant Under-Secretary for Foreign Trade Affairs at the MoE; and Athra Mubarak Al Mansouri, Economic Affairs Specialist at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Al Mansoouri emphasised the importance of his visit to Havana in promoting the UAE’s economic ties with the Republic of Cuba and with Latin America in general. He noted the great potential and broad opportunities for fostering stronger bilateral economic development, cooperation and forging highly productive partnerships.

The Minister further explained how the UAE has succeeded over the years in diversifying its economy and lessening its dependence on oil as a major source of income which he said now accounts for below 30 per cent of the national GDP. He also noted that the UAE has been progressing towards a post-oil economy based on a clear vision and strategy.

Al Mansouri added that part of the UAE’s strategic vision is to build a competitive, sustainable and knowledge-based economy through the development of sectors related to innovation, the consolidation of work upholding the ‘smart government’ concept, and optimal use of technology in comprehensively developing vital economic sectors.

This path will open the door to enhanced cooperation with Cuba in various areas of common interest, particularly tourism, hospitality and infrastructure, he said.

He added Cuba’s distinct geographical location makes it an important destination for promoting trade between the Caribbean and Latin America.

The minister noted that the MoE is intensively expanding and diversifying trade cooperation channels and investments with various countries in the fields of industry, agriculture, technology and services within the framework of the UAE’s economic diversification policy. He also referred to the ministry’s tireless efforts to foster closer cooperation in the vital tourism sector, which acts as a major engine for the UAE’ economic diversification and development.

He expressed the UAE’s eagerness for participation of the Republic of Cuba in the 2020 World Expo to be hosted by Dubai which will benefit from Cuba’s history and rich heritage.

Cabrisas said that his country is highly interested in strengthening bilateral relations with the UAE and building sustainable partnerships in several sectors that have been experiencing significant growth, the most important being renewable energy which is crucial for both the countries’ global leadership. He called on both sides to promote and advance trade further and focus sharply on investments in innovation.

As for tourism, Cabrisas noted that his country has welcomed five million tourists so far this year and expects exponential growth over the next few years. This, he continued, would require the creation of a suitable tourism environment through the provision of more hotels and other associated services, among others, as well as the expansion of the infrastructure of Havana and other cities.

He also referred to the importance of foreign investment to the development of the Cuban economy.

Cabrisas then reviewed his government’s plan 2030 which aims to bolster the Cuban economy, especially the tourism, industry and finance sectors.

Al Mansoori also met with several other Cuban officials, including Ernesto Medina Vilviran, Head of the Central Bank, and Rodoijz Malmirca, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment who received a formal invitation from Al Mansouri to participate in the Annual Investment Forum in UAE in 2017.

Both sides extensively discussed existing relations between the UAE and the Republic of Cuba along with effective measures for developing their economic, trade, investment, finance and banking partnerships. They agreed on the need to mutually develop these fields in the coming period considering their shared desire to enhance cooperation and build economic partnerships in vital areas they consider of interest.

The Cuban officials commended the UAE’s impressive overall development and its emergence as a global role model of a nation striving to rise and achieve the happiness of its people, as reflected in the Emirates’ advanced rankings in global competitiveness reports and its being the second-largest Arab economy.

The officials expressed their confidence that the objectives of the visit of the delegation headed by the UAE Minister of Economy will be achieved for the mutual benefit of the two friendly countries.