Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Questions (133)

Finian McGrath

Question:

133. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding developing relationships with Cuba in 2013 particularly in relation to trade and tourism. [11120/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland and Cuba established diplomatic relations in 1999, and bilateral engagement has increased steadily in the period since then. Last year bilateral trade in goods with Cuba reached close to €1.2 million, making Cuba Ireland’s 155th largest trading partner. I understand that a small number of Irish people are exploring business opportunities in Cuba and that several thousand Irish tourists visit Cuba each year. I hope to see trade, investment and tourism links between our two countries increase in the period ahead.

We also engage in activity in other areas with a view to enhancing our bilateral engagement. The Irish Embassy in Mexico City, which is accredited on a concurrent basis to Cuba, has organised in recent years an Irish cultural week. This will be continued in 2013 also and will comprise, it is envisaged, a film series, a literary seminar in cooperation with the University of Havana, and musical events. In addition, the Embassy participates in a number of other events, including Celtfest Cuba, a festival of Celtic music and dance. There have also been developments at the level of the EU’s relations with Cuba. In November 2012, the Foreign Affairs Council agreed that the process of elaborating negotiating directives for a bilateral agreement with Cuba will begin within the framework of the EU’s Common Position.