HAVANA, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- China is a "very significant" market for Cuban cigars and will become more important in the near future, said a well-known Cuban cigar manufacturer here on Monday.
The company is eyeing on an expansion in the emerging markets and China "will be a very important market for Habanos," Javier Terres, vice president of development for the joint Cuban-Spanish company Habanos S.A., told Xinhua on the sidelines of the annual Cuban Cigar Festival.
Terres said China is the firm's third most important market worldwide and Chinese customers "highly value" the quality of Cuban premium brands.
"We're the main foreign brand in terms of market share," he added.
Founded in 1994, Habanos S.A. owns the trademarks of every brand of Cuban-made cigars and cigarettes in all places that they are exported to, including the top-quality brands like Montecristo, Cohiba, Partagas and Romeo y Julieta, which are all sold in China.
Those brands are key to boost Habanos' sales in China, said the Spanish executive. "We hope to have a steady growth in the Chinese market," he added.
In 2016, the company's international sales revenue jumped by 5 percent from a year earlier, reaching about 445 million U.S. dollars, according to data provided by the company.
"It was a good year, a tremendous success among the premium and luxury brands and items around the world," said Terres.
The company also saw an annual increase of 13 percent last year in the domestic market, where it ranks the fifth among its clients.
Increasing foreign visitors to the island and the lift of a U.S. sanction on Cuban cigar import contributed to the big leap in 2016, said Terres.
In October, 2016, then U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled a new round of loosened trade rules, including lifting limits on rum and cigar imports from the island. American travelers to Cuba now can bring back an unlimited amount of Cuban tobacco for personal use.
Meanwhile, U.S. restrictions still prohibit the sale of Cuban cigars in the country.
Cuban Cigar Festival is an activity held annually in Havana. This year, the five-day event is expected to attract around 2,000 businessmen, wine experts, collectors, artists and cigar aficionados from 50 countries and regions.