From October 29 to November 2, the Second Business forum “Russia – Latin America” was held in Havana. The event took place on the days of the 16th meeting of the Intergovernmental Russian-Cuban Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific-Technical Cooperation. This large-scale economic platform once again demonstrated Russia’s growing interest in cooperation with Latin American countries. Under what conditions did this international event take place? What results and indicators have Russia achieved with the countries of the region?
The “Russia-Latin America” Forum is held for the second time. The first such event took place in the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo, in March 2016. This year the largest forum was held as part of the Intergovernmental Russian-Cuban Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific and Technical Cooperation chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Yury Borisov and the Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz. In addition, this time a grandiose event for the Latin American region “fit” in the work of the 36th International Havana Fair “FIHAV-2018”. In connection with the “layering” in Havana of international events, the island of Freedom during this period was visited by the representatives of Russian and Latin American official and business circles, well-known regional politicians and large investors.
The Forum was organized by the “Roscongress” Foundation and the Bering-Bellingshausen Institute for the Americas (IBA) with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investments of the Republic of Cuba. The general partner of the international event was the company “TECHTSVETMET”.
Among the speakers of the “Russia-Latin America” business forum were heads of the largest Russian and Latin American enterprises and companies, primarily export-oriented, as well as representatives of federal executive bodies and officials from Latin America and the Caribbean. In particular, the event was attended by: the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Yury Borisov, the Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, the Minister of Finance and State Loan of the Republic of Nicaragua Ivan Acosta, the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Cuba Orlando Hernández Guillén, the Vice President of the Republic of Guatemala Jafeth Cabrera. This time, one of the speakers was the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation – Georgy Kalamanov. This year, many of the participants noted the importance of holding such a large-scale event for the development of Russian-Latin American cooperation. Referring to the program and the composition of the speakers of the second business forum “Russia – Latin America”, it is worth emphasizing the increased degree of mutual interest of Russian and Latin American official circles and representatives of the business community in the development and implementation of joint long-term projects and initiatives.
During the event, the speakers more than once turned to statistics. Over the past 5 years, trade with Latin American and Caribbean countries is constantly increasing, the share of Russian companies in the region has increased significantly, and new projects are emerging. “Rosneft”, “Power Machines”, “Gazprom”, “Rosatom” and others should be singled out from a number of Russian enterprises that are actively working in the region. Experts believe that the event in Havana once again made it possible to draw attention to key areas of cooperation and identify new contacts Russia with the countries of the region. The prospects for investment cooperation, as well as issues of state support for Russian and Latin American business, were widely discussed on the margins of the forum. A large block of the program was devoted to the development of integration processes taking place both in the Eurasian space and in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. The advisor to the President of Russia Anton Kobyakov in his speech noted that this business forum every year helps to strengthen and deepen the dialogue between Russia and Latin America, and continues the line begun at the largest international economic platform – St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
The Minister of Foreign Trade of Cuba acted as the chairman of the organizing committee of the “Russia-Latin America” forum. Rodrigo Malmierca stressed that this year the event was timed to the 500th anniversary of the Cuban capital, Havana. In turn, the Minister hopes that such a large-scale event will be a serious contribution to the development of trade and the attraction of new foreign investments to Freedom Island. Other representatives of Cuba believe that the forum will once again present a unique platform for interaction of representatives of state institutions with the business community.
The central event of the business program of the forum was a plenary session devoted to joint projects of Russia and countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, taking place in the field of energy, industry, transport infrastructure and agriculture. In addition, global issues of the development of Russian-Latin American relations were discussed. The meeting was moderated by a well-known TV presenter, the Deputy Director of the State TV Channel “Channel Russia”, the President of the Bering-Bellingshausen Institute for the Americas – Serguéi Briliov.
This time around 4,500 companies from 60 countries, including Russia, took part in the forum. The total area of exhibition stands exceeded 20 thousand square meters, which, according to the organizers, was visited by about 200 thousand people. Representatives of the Cuban media noted the importance of such indicators in terms of the trade, economic and financial embargo imposed by the United States against the Freedom Island as early as 1962. In addition, the tightening of policies towards Cuba by the administration of US President Donald Trump further aggravated the economic situation of the Latin American country. According to the representatives of the Cuban government, holding such a large-scale event served as an additional tool in the struggle to remove restrictive measures, which was also discussed at the session of the UN General Assembly on October 31. As part of the FIHAV-2018, the Third Investment Forum was held, where long-term projects in Cuba, open to foreign investment, were presented.
This year the Russian exposition was organized with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, about two dozen companies from different sectors of the economy were represented, including: “GAZ Group”, “Tat-Export”, “Sinara – Transport Machines”, “Engineering Company «2K»”, “Railtransholding”, etc. In these few days, an extensive business program was carried out at the exhibition, during which negotiations were held, investment projects were discussed, the potential of the Cuban market for Russian enterprises, issues transport interaction, as well as the search for potential customers and the expansion of business contacts.
The second forum “Russia – Latin America” again demonstrated a high degree of interest of Russian companies in the development of cooperation with Latin American partners. Within a few days, major contracts were signed on the Freedom Island and new horizons of interaction were outlined. This international economic platform at times proved its viability and confirmed its key importance as a tool for cooperation of Russia with the countries of the region. According to the results of the forum, the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation noted that the development of cooperation with the countries of the Latin American region remains for Russia one of the important regional areas of foreign policy.