After 57 years, South Korea and Cuba in trade talks
The meeting of the Korea-Cuba economic cooperation committee was held in Havana, involving some 150 business leaders from the two countries, according to the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), South Korea's largest business lobby that represents the country's top 600 companies.
The meeting marked the first of its kind since the countries severed diplomatic ties in 1959, the FKI noted.
"The Korea-Cuba economic cooperation meeting is especially meaningful in that it marks the first dialogue amid a continued diplomatic cessation between South Korea and Cuba," FKI Chairman Huh Chang-soo was quoted as saying in his opening speech marking the start of the bilateral talks.
Huh was accompanied by many other business leaders interested in expanding economic ties with Cuba, such as the head of the state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency and representatives from leading South Korean firms, including Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and POSCO.
The one-day meeting partly sought to expand the countries' bilateral trade, which came to some $57 million in 2015, accounting for less than 0.1 percent of South Korea's overall trade volume that year.
Apparently indicating Havana's move to boost its trade relations with Seoul, Cuban participants in the bilateral talks were headed by an official from GECOMEX, the holding firm for Cuba's 21 state-run importers that together account for nearly one-third of Cuba's overall foreign purchases, according to FKI.
FKI noted that Cuba may serve as a logistics hub for Northeast America following its normalization of ties with the United States. ■