With an aim to increase economic ties with Cuba, India today asked the Caribbean island country to increase cooperation in energy and mining sectors besides simplifying visa process for Indian professionals.
Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was leding a business delegation to Cuba, said the economic complementarities between the countries, if exploited properly, would enable manifold growth in trade relations.
"Scindia mentioned that energy and mining are the two sectors where Indian companies can participate in Cuba through investment in exploration, production, refining and marketing," an official statement said.
During his meeting with Cuban acting Minister of Foreign Relations Marcelino Medino, Scindia asked to increase cooperation in sectors like pharmaceuticals, tourism, IT, renewable energy and sugar.
"The Cuban Minister was also requested by Scindia to facilitate and expedite the request of ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) for extension of their contract in Cuba which is expiring in September 2012, simplification of visa process to avoid undue delay and multiple longer duration business visa and support for India’s candidature for the chairmanship of International Civil Aviation Organisation," it added.
The Cuban government said the OVL's request is in under consideration and a decision in this regard is expected shortly.
In another meeting with the Cuban External Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca, both sides expressed disappointment at the low level of annual bilateral trade which stood at USD 40 million.
"It is way below the true potential," it said.
Scindia also conveyed India's willingness to provide know-how and equity in setting up of a refinery on the Cuba's western coast.
"He also offered support in setting up railway and airport projects in Cuba as Indian companies have acquired considerable experience in these areas," the statement said.
The minister said both the sides can also collaborate in automobile sector and India can supply buses for facilitating urban transport in Cuba.
The Cuban Minister suggested for joint research in pharma and biotechnology sector by establishing institutional arrangements.
"The Cuban side sought Indian expertise and knowhow for exploitation of critical minerals such as nickel, cobalt and tungsten available in Cuba," it added.