“The modernisation of the Cuban economy is a major opportunity for Hungarian enterprises to establish a presence on Cuba’s increasingly open market and to realise profits”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó told Hungarian news agency MTI on Wednesday during a two-day visit to Cuba.

In addition to holding talks with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, Mr. Szijjártó will also be meeting with, amongst others, Minister of Culture Abel Prieto, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Rodrigo Malmierca and Minister of Education José Ramón Saborido Loidi, as well as with President of the Council of Ministers and Economy minister Ricardo Cabrisas and Cardinal Jaime Ortega.

Mr. Szijjártó pointed out that participating in Cuban modernisation is also advantageous to Hungary in view of the fact that, on contrast to the United States, the European Union is not maintaining sanctions against Cuba, and in fact is one of the Central American country’s largest investors and trade partners. “As a member of the EU, Hungary is in an advantageous position when wanting to facilitate the business interests of Hungarian enterprises, which is one of the main goals of the current Cuban negotiations”, he indicated.

“Hungarian enterprises must appear on the Cuban market in time to develop a significant market presence within the opening and modernising economy”, the Minister explained. “We have identified five areas in which Cuban demand and world-class Hungarian capacities and capabilities correspond. The most important of these is the water industry in view of the fact that Cuba’s economy performance it to a major extent determined by tourism, which the current infrastructure is for the moment finding it difficult to keep step. The same can e said for water system and the construction and management of drinking water and sewage systems. There is a major demand for Hungarian water industry knowledge, technologies and infrastructure development projects in Cuba”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

“Another area of economic cooperation we have identified is agriculture, in view of the fact that Cuban production technologies are in need of major development. The food industry could also be an area of cooperation since the country imports 70 percent of its food requirements; negotiations are underway on the full modernisation of the poultry sector using Hungarian technology. The fourth area is health industry research and development: Cuba has already placed major emphasis on this field and is searching for European cooperation opportunities. There is also significant demand in Cuba for the technologies offered by Hungarian enterprises within the field of renewable energy sources”, he continued.

Seven cooperation agreements will be concluded within these areas by Cuban and Hungarian enterprises at the business forum that will be attended by Hungarian businesses operating n these fields, Mr. Szijjártó told the press.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister pointed out that financing is a key issue, and that from this perspective it is an advantage for Hungary that three years ago it once again became a member of the International Investment Bank, of which Cuba is also a member, and of which Hungary is the third largest shareholder.

During Mr. Szijjártó’s visit an amended economic cooperation agreement will be signed that regulated cooperation within the abovementioned fields. An agreement on cultural and education cooperation will also be concluded, within the framework of which Cuban scholarship students will be able to begin their studies at Hungarian universities next September.

“Hurricane Irma caused extensive damage to Cuba, and Hungary is helping Cuba to overcome the difficulties caused by the storm and is donating a piece of water purification equipment capable of purifying two hundred cubic metres of water-a-day, which will provide for the drinking water requirements of a town with five thousand inhabitants”, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade told MTI.