France and Cuba

  • French Ambassador to Cuba, Mr Jean-Marie Bruno (19/01/2015)
  • Cuban Ambassador to France, Mr Hector Igarza Cabrera (15/11/2013)

Political relations

A joint statement on resuming bilateral cooperation was signed in Havana on 30 November 2010.

Recent visits to Cuba:

• Mr Jean-Pierre Bel, President of the French Senate, January 2013.
• Mr Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, 12 April 2014. This was the first time that a French Minister of Foreign Affairs had visited Cuba since Claude Cheysson’s visit in 1983.
• Ms Fleur Pellerin, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, May 2014.
• Mr Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, from 5 to 8 March 2015.
• Mr Jean-Pierre Bel, Personal Envoy of the President of the French Republic for Latin America and the Caribbean, from 9 to 15 April 2015.
• The President of the French Republic, from 10 to 12 May 2015, for the first visit of a French Head of State to Cuba. He was accompanied by seven ministers, several members of parliament, many business leaders, and intellectuals.
• Mr Jean-Pierre Bel, Personal Envoy of the President of the French Republic for Latin America and the Caribbean, from 5 to 7 October 2015.
• Mr Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, from 5 to 7 November 2015, for the Havana International Fair.

Recent visits to France:

• Mr Manuel Marrero Cruz, Minister of Tourism, January 2014.
• Mr Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs, March 2014.
• Ms Mariela Castro Espin, Cuban member of parliament, March and October 2014.
• Mr Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Vice President of the Council of Ministers, January 2015.
• Mr Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs, April 2015.
• Mr Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, July 2015.
• Mr Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Vice President of the Council of Ministers, August 2015.
• Mr Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, First Vice President of the Council of Ministers, 30 November 2015 for the opening of COP21.
• Mr Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Vice President of the Council of Ministers, November and December 2015.
• President Raul Castro Ruz for a State visit, from 30 January to 3 February 2016.

Economic relations

At the start of 2009, the Cuban authorities’ decision to block asset transfers in foreign currency by non-residents put investors in a difficult situation. French groups were affected (around €60 million blocked), along with their counterparts from Spain (€300 million) and Germany (€100-200 million). The situation was normalized in 2010.
The largest French investment is that of the group Pernod Ricard (Havana Club rum). Other major groups are contributing to Cuban development projects. These are mainly in tourism (Accor), building and construction (Bouygues), telecommunications (Alcatel-Lucent, which installed the underwater fibre optic cable from Venezuela to Cuba), energy (Total, Alstom), electrical engineering, agrifood and transport (Air France).

Around sixty French businesses are active through partnerships with Cuban entities, representative offices and companies owned by French people living locally. Thirteen of them are established in the form of international economic associations (mixed enterprises or partnership agreements) and twenty in the form of branches.
The French business confederation, MEDEF, sends delegations regularly (March 2012, October 2013, October 2015). The annual Havana International Fair is an opportunity for French businesses to showcase their expertise. The next Fair will be held in November 2016.

French exports to Cuba may be guaranteed until November 2017 by Coface: an amendment to the Franco-Cuban agreement giving the details of this cover was signed by Mr Matthias Fekl during the visit of the President of the French Republic to Cuba on 11 May 2015.

During his visit to Cuba, the President of the French Republic announced the end of the reconciliation process for Cuban public debt, thus opening the way for negotiations on a multilateral agreement. Negotiations between Cuba and the ad hoc group of its creditors led to a historic agreement on 12 December 2015. The outstanding debt (of about $2.6 billion excluding interest for late payment), which had not been honoured since the late 1980s, will be repaid by Cuba over an 18-year period, due to its economic situation. Under this agreement, France, like the other creditors, will write off the interest for late payment and will see all of the principal and original interest discharged, through direct repayment or conversion into development projects in Cuba as an additional bilateral effort. An agreement on handling Cuba’s debt to France was signed during the State visit of President Raul Castro on 1 February 2016.

This agreement paves the way for a new era in relations between Cuba and its creditors. It will enable the return to Cuba of foreign operators providing medium and long-term financing, as well as export credit agencies and private investors encouraged by this positive sign. The French Development Agency will therefore be able to resume its work in Cuba very quickly, as promised by the President of the French Republic during his historic visit there in May 2015.

The State visit of President Raul Castro was an opportunity to launch a new economic partnership between France and Cuba and to sign a joint economic road map outlining its main areas of focus: tourism, energy, infrastructure, healthcare, transport and agrifood.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

The main areas of bilateral cooperation are as follows:

Teaching and spreading the French language, mainly through the two Alliance Française branches in Havana and Santiago, which are the only foreign cultural centres permitted, and are especially popular (12,000 students in the capital). The Cuban authorities have provided France with a magnificent palace, the Palacio Gomez, which is the new headquarters of the Alliance Française in Havana. It was inaugurated on 11 May 2015 by the President of the French Republic.

Higher education and research, including the fields of biotechnology, agronomics, the environment, medicine, exact sciences and engineering. A multiyear Priority Solidarity Fund project, completed in July 2015, provided support for eight joint projects run by French and Cuban research bodies. On 11 May 2015, the President of the French Republic announced at the University of Havana that the number of scholarships would be doubled.

Artistic and cultural cooperation, especially the annual French film festival, which attracts up to 100,000 people. A “French culture month” will be organized for the first time in May 2016. This highlight of our cultural cooperation with Cuba was proposed by the President of the French Republic during his visit to the country. .

Updated: 25/03/2016

SITE MAP