Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Questions (55)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

55. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Ireland and the EU are progressing trade links with Cuba in view of the EU Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement. [53201/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The EU-Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) was signed by EU Member States and Cuba in December 2016. The agreement is robust and comprehensive, consisting of three main pillars: Political Dialogue, Cooperation and Sectoral Policy Dialogue, and Trade and Trade Cooperation.

The trade pillar is aimed at strengthening EU-Cuba trade and economic relations by promoting dialogue, encouraging increased trade and investment flows, promoting the integration of Cuba into the world economy, and supporting the diversification of the Cuban economy.

Ireland was pleased to ratify the EU Cuba PDCA earlier this year, marking a significant moment in our bilateral relationship with Cuba, which has been strengthening in recent years. In October this year, President Miguel Díaz-Canel visited Ireland and met with President Higgins and the Taoiseach, returning a visit by President Higgins to Cuba in 2017. I understand that the Taoiseach had a positive and constructive meeting with President Díaz-Canel and that they discussed several issues of mutual concern, including ways in which both countries can improve trade and economic links.

While current trade levels between Ireland and Cuba are relatively low, the enactment of the PDCA and the growing level of bilateral engagement between our two countries will facilitate the strengthening of economic relations and increased trade. President Díaz-Canel was accompanied on his visit to Dublin by Minister for Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, a signal of the importance our two countries place on expanding relations in this area. Real progress in this area will materialise as Cuba continues its necessary programme of domestic economic reforms to open up its economy.

Ireland's Embassy in Mexico, which is accredited to Cuba, has been engaging with the Cuban Government regarding the potential to increase economic cooperation. Our Ambassador has made several trips to Cuba this year, including a trade-focused visit in November, when she attended the Havana Trade Fair and met President Díaz-Canel, Vice-Minister for Trade, Ileana Núñez Mordoche, and relevant government officials to discuss ways to expand bilateral economic and trade links.

Ireland looks forward to further dialogue with Cuba across the areas outlined in the PDCA and to continuing work to strengthen diplomatic, political and economic ties between our two countries.