KUALA LUMPUR: Cuba is seeking to establish direct trade with Malaysia, including barter trade, to ease the current shortage of supplies on the Caribbean island nation.
Cuban Ambassador to Malaysia Ibete Fernandez Hernandez said that the system would contribute to alleviating the situation faced by Cuba due to the escalation and tightening of a trade embargo imposed by the United States (US).
“If we (Malaysia-Cuba) can make barter trade (a reality), it will be great. The facilitation would really help us in coping with food rationing in order to deal with the shortages. For example, as Cuba produces vaccines and Malaysia has food items, we can do such exchanges.
“In any way where we can collaborate, for example, doing exchanges through shipments, I think there would not be any problem arising and in fact, this is the best approach during these difficult times.”
Hernandez said this to Bernama International News Service at her residence recently, in responding to the increased sanctions against Cuba by the US.
Washington recently activated Title III of the Helms-Burton Act to tighten sanctions against Havana, which partly contributed to the shortages of basic foodstuffs in Cuba in recent weeks.
Title III of the act, also known as the Libertad Act which took effect on May 2, permit US citizens to file lawsuits in US federal courts against businesses operating on properties the Cuban government appropriated after the 1959 revolution.
According to international media reports last week, Cuban Commerce Minister Betsy Diaz said that the latest US move caused the Cuban government to widen the wholesale rationing of staple food items and other basic products in the face of a grave supply crisis.
Some items, such as chicken, would be limited to a fixed amount per purchase or per customer while other items, including eggs, rice, beans, grains and sausages, can only be bought with a ration card and are subject to a monthly purchase limit, the reports added.
Currently, there is no direct bilateral trade between Malaysian and Cuba.
On the same development, Hernandez highlighted that Malaysia had been giving overwhelming support to Cuban resolutions to end the US-imposed embargo on the island nation at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), since 1992.
She said such solidarity shown is highly anticipated, especially during crucial moments.
“We hope Malaysia will continue to support Cuba in its fight against the embargo. The demonstration of solidarity and statement from this country is certainly important for us,“ she further said.
Havana and Kuala Lumpur established diplomatic ties in 1975 — at the time of the Cold War ideological divide — and since then have moved forward to enjoy increasingly fruitful and meaningful relations and cooperation in many areas — politics, economics, medical, education, biotechnology, sports and people-to-people relations.
Cuba opened its embassy in Kuala Lumpur in 1997, and Malaysia followed suit by setting up its embassy in Havana in February 2001. — Bernama