Cuba country brief

Australia and Cuba have long enjoyed friendly relations based on multilateral cooperation.

Key engagement

Cooperation in multilateral fora.

Outlook

Opportunities exist for Australian companies in Cuba's resources, skills, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, tourism and agricultural sectors.

Trade and investment opportunities are likely to increase should Cuba continue its economic reform agenda.

Bilateral relations

Formal diplomatic relations were established in 1989. Cuba opened an embassy in Canberra in October 2008 and the relationship has enjoyed renewed momentum in recent years. Australia and Cuba previously worked together to support the integration of Cuban-trained doctors into Pacific Island health systems. Australia’s Ambassador in Mexico holds non-resident accreditation to Cuba.

Foreign relations

The United States maintains a trade embargo against Cuba. While Australia does not have any trade or economic legislation or measure which restricts or discourages trade or investment to or from Cuba, the embargo remains an impediment to bilateral trade.

Since 1996, Australia has voted in favour of Cuba's annual resolution in the United Nations General Assembly calling for an end to the US trade embargo of Cuba.

Australia’s foreign policy is guided by the Foreign Policy White Paper.

Fast Facts

  • Cuban visitors to Australia (2017) — 300
  • Australian visitors to Cuba (primary destination 2017)* — 6,200
  • Resident Australian population born in Cuba (2016) — 700
  • Australian residents of Cuban descent (2016) — 1,100
  • Cuban students in Australia (2017) — 10

High level engagement

  • 2018 — Cuban First Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marcelino Medina González, visited Australia.
  • 2017 — Visit to Cuba by former Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop.

Agreements with Cuba

  • MoU to enhance bilateral diplomatic engagement.
  • MoU on sports cooperation promoting exchanges between athletes, teams and coaches and cooperation in education, sport science, anti-doping and sports technology
  • Cooperation Agreement between the Australian Olympic Committee and Cuban Olympic Committee to share experiences in the development of athletes and coaches.
  • MoU covering various areas in which enhanced cooperation might be pursued: expanding people-to-people links, aid cooperation, science and technology, sport and culture.

Public diplomacy

Through the Direct Aid Program (DAP), the Australian Government has supported a range of projects in Cuba. Since 2015, DAP has supported projects providing assistance following Hurricane Irma, rehabilitating sanitation systems, preserving agrarian traditions, promoting renewable energy and providing wheelchairs for children.

In 2018, the Council on Australia-Latin America Relations (COALAR) provided grants to Somos21 Limited and the Australian Baseball Association to connect and collaborate with people and institutions in Cuba.

Cuba is eligible for the Endeavour Leadership Program. Under the previous Endeavour Mobility Grants and Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships programs, ten Australians have been offered opportunities to undertake a study experience in Cuba.

Australian Embassy in Mexico

Ruben Dario 55
Col. Polanco
Mexico City 11580
Tel: 52-55-11012200
General: australianembassy.mexico@dfat.gov.au
Facebook: Australia en México, Centroamérica, Cuba y      República Dominicana
Twitter: @AusEmbMex

 

Economic diplomacy

In the 1980s, Australia's Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) provided two loans to the Cuban government for sugar cultivation and harvesting equipment exports. Cuba defaulted on debt repayments and was unable to agree a repayment schedule with EFIC. In May 2016 Cuba reached a bilateral debt rescheduling agreement with EFIC to resolve this debt. The agreement ensures a sustainable and definitive solution to Cuba's debt arrears with Australia.

Further economic and trade information can be found in our Economic Factsheet for Cuba.

Business

There is growing interest among Australian companies in the Cuban market as knowledge spreads of the Cuban Government's economic reform agenda. A number of companies have identified opportunities in areas of Australian expertise that coincide with Cuban priorities. These include agribusiness, mining and energy, biotechnology, infrastructure and tourism. The 2015 creation of the Australia-Cuba Business Council and the February 2016 business delegation visit, led by Special Envoy Andrew Robb, is indicative of the new opportunities and profile that Cuba represents to Australian business.

In 2017-2018, Cuba sent three business delegations to Australia to investigate potential areas for collaboration. As a result, Meat and Livestock Australia agreed to trial a cattle tick vaccine produced by Cuban SOE, BioCubaFarma.

Travel

* Cuba estimates the number of Australian visitors as 23,100 in 2017 (Oficina Nacional de Estadística e Información).

Last Updated: 4 February 2019