Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz ends his week-long visit to Vietnam today.
The visit is the first by Cruz outside of Latin America since he came to office in 2019. The trip focuses on cementing several bilateral agreements aimed at increasing investment and trade ties between the two one-party, socialist states.
The economic deals are an important pillar of Cuba’s post-COVID-19 recovery. They are also significant because Vietnam—a Chinese-style mixed market economy since the 1980s—has become a model for Cuba to aspire to. Havana’s 2011-2018 economic reforms—which eventually recognised private property rights and allowed foreign direct investment—moved the country closer to this system. However, unlike Cuba’s heavily US-sanctioned economy, Vietnam—reliant on significant private enterprise, foreign investment and trade—enjoyed pre-Covid annual growth rates of 6-7% which rivalled China’s growth by 2020. Indeed, Cuba is still in its market infancy—only opening the majority of the economy to private enterprise last year.
The prospects of Cuba increasing foreign investment depends on the success of recent reforms, though US sanctions—eased this year to allow overseas private remittances—will still restrict US investment in Cuban companies, likely stifling overall foreign investment and export growth in the medium-term.
John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.