by Raimundo Urrechaga
HAVANA, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- Cuba plans to put on a big show at the upcoming China International Import Expo (CIIE) in a bid to expand its export market, Vice President of Cuba's Chamber of Commerce Ruben Ramos told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Havana sees China's first import expo, to be held in Shanghai from Nov. 5 to 10, as an opportunity to reach new buyers and promote free trade amid rising protectionism in some major economies, said Ramos.
"We are going to participate in the Shanghai expo with a delegation comprised of 34 Cuban firms and 40 business representatives," said Ramos, who will be leading the group.
"Our country will have a 136-square-meter stand and be represented by Cuba's most important export sectors," he said.
The delegation features Cuban exporters in the areas of agriculture, food, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical services, information technology and telecommunications.
"This is an event at which China is willing to expand its ties with the world and we have very high expectations, based on the fact that its pace of economic growth calls for the resources to maintain it," said Ramos.
Cuba will showcase products it has traditionally exported to China, because it still has room to grow through new import and distribution partners, he said.
"The potential (for growth) is there and Cuban companies attending the expo are very clear about that objective. We want to identify new partners and markets to introduce our exportable products, both traditional and new ones, as well as our professional services," he said.
Cuba's top export products, such as premium cigars and rum, enjoy "great acceptance" in the Asian nation thanks to their "indisputable quality," so the idea is to export more "dynamically" to the Chinese market, said Ramos, adding that Cuba is also looking to "identify new partners in order to increase exports" of seafood, minerals and sugar.
While Cuba plans to tout its traditional strengths at the expo, it also intends to introduce its ground-breaking biotechnology products such as CIMAvax-EGF, a therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer and Heberprot-P, a unique treatment for diabetic foot ulcers.
"There is something that distinguishes the products in which Cuba has become strong in the Chinese market: quality. Today China seeks higher quality imports and that is what we will be offering at the event," he said.
"We are going to Shanghai to expand our ties of cooperation and explore new opportunities in the Chinese market," he said.
China is the Caribbean nation's second-largest trading partner, with strong economic ties and cooperation in various sectors such as renewable energy, agriculture, tourism, mining, transportation and infrastructure.
According to Chinese customs statistics, bilateral trade amounted to 1.76 billion U.S. dollars in 2017.