HAVANA, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Cuba and Vietnam on Thursday signed three economic cooperation agreements that deepen trade relations between the two nations and point to greater investments from the Asian country into the island.
At the opening of a bilateral business forum, chaired by Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam Tran Tuan Anh, and Cuba's Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca, the two sides signed tourism and industrial agreements.
According to Malmierca, bilateral relations have advanced in recent years in economic and commercial areas, consolidating their strategic nature and positioning Hanoi as the island's second trading partner in Asia as well as its main rice provider.
"There is a growing diversification in bilateral trade, and there are currently many Vietnamese products recognized by Cuban people for their good quality and price," said the Cuban minister.
He said Cuban exports of goods and services in the health sector, pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology are also on the rise.
Last year, the two nations signed a healthcare cooperation agreement and Havana sent the first group of 100 Cuban doctors to Vietnam. Authorities are also working on plans for the biotechnology industry.
"Vietnamese investment will benefit sectors prioritized in the Cuban socio-economic development plan such as agriculture, renewable energy, construction, industry and tourism. It will place Vietnam among the main investors in the country," Malmierca said.
Malmierca also announced the approval of two important projects with the Vietnamese company Tin Thanh industrial group, one for the construction of a bioelectric plant and another for agricultural development combined with the generation of renewable energy, both in the eastern province of Camaguey.
Vietnamese company ViMariel S.A. has also been granted a concession for the development of an industrial park in the Mariel Special Development Zone, west of Havana.
The company will produce sanitary furniture, sinks, porcelain and floor tiles and other home construction materials.
Also, Cuban firm Gran Caribe S.A. and the Vietnamese Chao-Viglacera signed a management and marketing contract for a hotel in Havana.
Local tourism firm Cubanacan and Vietnam's Hanel LTD signed a memorandum of understanding for the development of a five-star hotel in Havana.
Meanwhile, Tran Tuan Anh said that economic cooperation between the two countries is part of Hanoi's intention to enhance relations with Cuba.
"We have the basis to continue promoting ties between both nations. Today, bilateral trade is maintained at a high level with 200 million U.S. dollars," he said.
The minister said that Hanoi and Havana hope to soon reach a bilateral trade volume of about 500 million U.S. dollars a year.
The forum took place on the sidelines of a visit to Cuba by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong, who is expected to meet with President Raul Castro.