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    SA and Cuba strike a deal for grants and R210m loan

    SA and Cuba strike a deal for grants and R210m loan

    Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and Cuba's ambassador to South
    Africa sign a document aimed at stimulating trade between the two countries
    STAFF REPORTER
    Published: 2012/02/03 04:47:51 PM

    SOUTH Africa on Friday formalised a R350m economic aid agreement with Cuba.

    At a ceremony in Pretoria, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and
    Angela Villa, Cuba's ambassador to South Africa, signed a document that
    both said was aimed at stimulating trade between the two countries.

    The signing was a follow-up to President Jacob Zuma 's state visit to
    Cuba in 2010, at which time he announced an economic assistance package
    to that country comprising two direct grants and a repayable loan.

    The grants include R40m for the purchase of seeds, R5m of which must be
    spent on the South African market; and a R100m "solidarity grant".

    The loan, for R210m, includes credit lines in two tranches of R70m and
    R140m.

    Responding to a question, Mr Davies said the loan had been provided at a
    "lowish interest rate", but he did not specify a percentage.

    The signing of the agreement came on the 50th anniversary of the
    imposition of the 1962 US trade embargo on Cuba, an event that Ms Villa
    said had caused great hardship for the Cuban people.

    Mr Davies said South Africa owed Cuba a "great debt" for the sacrifices
    it had made to help South Africa during the apartheid years, especially
    its efforts in Angola.

    The two countries have enjoyed friendly relations since 1994. Trade
    between them totalled R73m in 2010.

    He said there were "huge" possibilities for increasing this number,
    particularly in the field of medicines and vaccines where Cuba was a
    world leader.

    Ms Villa hailed the agreement as "a new beginning in our economic and
    trade relations".

    In 2010, South Africa wrote off two debts, of R926m and R121m, owed by Cuba.

    SAPA

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