HAVANA – The vice president of Vietnam began an official visit to Cuba on Monday as part of political, economic and commercial discussions between the two countries.
Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh arrived in Havana late on Sunday in response to an invitation from Cuban first vice president Salvador Valdes.
The pair are due to hold talks on strengthening the historic relationship of friendship and cooperation, official media outlets said.
Ngoc Thinh’s five-day trip will include a visit to the Mariel Special Development Zone, the Cuban government’s flagship project to attract foreign investment, where Vietnam has several projects underway.
She also plans to pay tribute to Ho Chi Minh in a Havana park named after the Vietnamese former leader and meet with senior officials in the Caribbean country.
Ngoc Thinh is also president of the Vietnam Women’s Union and will hold meetings with her counterparts at the equivalent organization, the Federation of Cuban Women.
The Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs and deputy prime minister Phan Binh Minh visited the island nation in May when he was received by the leader of the ruling Communist Party of Cuba Raul Castro and President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
During those meetings, Phan Binh and the Cuban leaders ratified agreements to expand trade, economic and cooperative relations.
On that occasion, an agreement was signed between for the period 2020-2022 to strengthen political dialogue on issues of interest in the bilateral and multilateral spheres.
Cuba and Vietnam want to double their trade exchange figures, according to representatives from the two governments.
The Indochinese country is the second commercial partner of the island in Asia, behind only China, with a bilateral exchange that in 2017 amounted to $220 million and could reach $500 million by 2020, according to official projections.
Among the areas in which Cuba and Vietnam have or expect to have joint projects and investments are the food industry, renewable energy, science and technology, justice and production of consumer goods and construction materials.
Vietnam exports rice, coal, chemicals, textiles and electronics to Cuba and imports mainly pharmaceutical products from the island.