China has begun cutting off key exports to Cuba after the communist-run island failed to deliver a series of payments, official statistics reveal.
According to latest figures, Chinese exports to Cuba have dropped by 29.8 percent to around $1 billion in 2017, a fall from the $1.8 billion dollars in 2016 and the $1.9 billion the year before.
The figure presents further problems for the island’s stagnating economy, with Chinese commercial office in Havana confirming the decline was due to Cuba defaulting on a serious of payments.
Among the items Cuba is suffering major shortages of is toilet paper. State media this week revealed mass shortages in the capital of Havana due to lack of domestic production, forcing the Castro regime to turn to Vietnam for this basic necessity.
China remains Cuba’s largest trading partner in terms of goods and recently agreed to expand economic ties through a series of commercial agreements, which included the donation of $1 million to Hurricane Irma relief and a further $12 million “in supplies, including generators, water pumps, purifiers, folding beds and other resources.”
The two communist countries also share extremely close diplomatic ties together, with China providing the country with numerous grants, loans, and bailouts to the sum of billions of dollars.
“This year, Cuba’s exports to China must grow at an impressive rate. However, China’s exports to Cuba are experiencing difficult times and the pressure continues for many businessmen due to the economic difficulties this Caribbean nation is going through,” said Hong Xiao, an economic and commercial counselor at the Chinese embassy in Havana earlier this month.
Some of the main factors damaging the country’s economy include the devastation left from the aftermath Hurricane Irma and the reintroduction of business and travel restrictions by the Trump administration as part of his policy to roll back Barack Obama’s “Cuban Thaw.”
The economic collapse of Venezuela, Cuba’s closest ally and second largest trading partner, has also led to a significant drop in cheap oil imports meaning the government has been forced to ration use of fuel and electricity.
On Thursday, it emerged that China is also beginning to lose patience with Venezuela over their mounting debt as one of the country’s biggest state-run conglomerates, Sinopec, filed a lawsuit in a Houston federal court seeking more than $23 million in damages from Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA, over a series of unpaid bills.