Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Business Development Minister, Senator Lynette Eastmond, held talks yesterday with Cuba’s Ambassador to Barbados, H.E. Pedro Garcia Roque, at the Ministry’s Office at Reef Road, Fontabelle.
The two, along with other senior officials from the Ministry, discussed a number of topical issues, including: bilateral agreements; trade in services; renewable energy initiatives; and culture and agriculture, specifically the sugar cane industry.
Senator Eastmond spoke of the training of Barbadian medical students in Cuba, and told the ambassador from what she had heard “these students have encountered wonderful experiences studying there.”
Ambassador Roque noted that Barbados was not the only Caribbean state in his country which benefited from the outstanding medical training facilities. “Along with the 101 Barbadian students, there are also 200 Vincentians who are pursuing similar areas of study.” He noted too, that the Barbadian students in Havana “were very well qualified” in their relevant areas.
The Commerce Minister spoke of deepening cultural ties between Barbados and Cuba, noting: “We are involved in culture and music and I am confident there are opportunities to work in Cuba, or for Cuban delegations to work in Barbados to further strengthen such ties,” she said.
On the topic of renewable energy, Ambassador Roque pointed out there were several such energy programmes in Havana. He said the country’s dependence on non-renewable sources, for example oil, was somewhat challenging. “Cuba produces some three million tonnes of crude oil, but we need seven million tonnes to sustain the country. We purchase four million tonnes of oil from external sources and usually pay with hard cash and services. In the past, we were consuming 11 million tonnes,” Ambassador Roque said.
Senator Eastmond said she hoped both Havana and Bridgetown “would form business opportunities relating to renewable energy sources, particularly solar energy, in the near future”.