Spanish PM marks historic visit to Cuba with renewed trade and investment effort

Spanish PM marks historic visit to Cuba with renewed trade and investment effort

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will travel to Cuba today to meet with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel for discussions to

Spain’s PM Sanchez delivers a speech during an event marking the first 100 days of his government in Madrid

Photo: Reuters/Sergio Perez

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will travel to Cuba today to meet with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel for discussions to strengthen bilateral ties.

Though the relationship between Madrid and Havana has been strained by the Castro regime’s lack of democracy, Spain remains Cuba’s top foreign investor and third largest trading partner. Spain’s relations Venezuela, still ruled by Nicolas Maduro, have also been rocky.

Under Mr Sanchez, who took power in June, Madrid has shifted away from a hard-line policy on Cuba and Venezuela—rolling back sanctions and re-establishing productive dialogue across the Atlantic. Prior to today, this communication has largely been preliminary meetings between various officials, planning today’s visit and future cooperative policies.

Expect today’s visit by Sanchez to demonstrate Spain’s desire to steady relations with Cuba and Venezuela. Bilateral progress between Madrid and Havana likely lies in their already comprehensive economic relationship. As such, proposals today could involve a trade agreement or the further commitment of Spain to invest in the island. Such soft power expansion would potentially allow Spain to compete with China, which has invested heavily in the island as an alternative to the West.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.