Iran and Cuba: Expanding bilateral ties

The Non-Aligned Movement which was formed with the ideology of creating a space for countries other than the existed super powers. Since then the movement has played role in creating and strengthening relations between the member countries. The existences and proliferation of NAM has created new avenues for the member countries. The Non-Aligned Movement not being an economic cooperation or trade organization, it has been the basis for many of its member states to have bilateral trade relations with other members. Iran and Cuba are two such NAM members who have enjoyed positive relations beyond that borders and are hoping to expand their bilateral ties and strengthen the relations. Both the countries have active participation in the movement as Cuba conducted the XIV and Iran the XVI NAM Summit respectively. The Non-Aligned movement has not made any formal statements on economic relations with Iran.
Tehran and Havana have enjoyed ‘excellent’ ties since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. The two countries that are strong against imperialism have shown strong relation ties for years. Cuba has expressed support for Iran’s nuclear program and has defended Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear technology in the face of UN sanctions. Cuban President Raul Castro also served as the Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement, which released a statement in July 2008 declaring that its member states “welcomed the continuing cooperation being extended by the Islamic Republic of Iran to the IAEA” and “reaffirmed that states’ choices and decisions, including those of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear technology and its fuel cycle policies must be respected.
The two countries have enjoyed friendly and productive trade relations with each other. Cuba and Iran cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally through the Non-Aligned Movement. In a June 2008 memorandum of understanding, Iranian President Ahmadinejad explained that the two countries expressed their continued support for “each other on the international scene.”
Cuba and Iran have pursued bilateral relations for some time, beginning in 2005 with a transportation investment program to aid Cuba’s failing transportation sector. In February 2008, Cuba and Iran inked their first agreement facilitating scientific and technological cooperation which focused on the biotechnology fields of medical and pharmaceutical development. In June 2008, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding reiterating their bilateral economic cooperation.
Trade between Cuba and Iran increased from $22.9 million in 2007 to $46.4 in 2008.  In September 2009, Cuba put into effect a bilateral trade agreement signed by Cuba and Iran in 2007.  The accord planned to increase trade between the two countries by decreasing tariffs on Iranian goods imported into Cuba by between 10 and 30 percent on 88 different products including textiles, industrial machinery and furniture.
According to recent economic developments the two countries are looking forwards to bolster ties beyond the monetary benefits. The two countries are looking forwards on extending their ties beyond economic relations; Iran has provided funds for technical developments in Cuba. Cuba and Iran cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally through the Non-Aligned Movement. The two countries have also stated that they will expand cooperation in areas of the sugar industry, fishery, biotechnology, sports, transportation, development projects, investment, tourism, information technology and communications and water resources.
The signed bilateral documents also ask for Iran and Cuba to provide more facilities in banking cooperation with the aim of promoting economic and trade ties and making use of mutual scientific, research and industrial capabilities. Iran has granted Cuba a 200-million-euro credit line to undertake several different projects, a large part of which was dedicated to financing Cuban imports of railroad wagons, both for cargo and passengers.
The amicable relation shared by the two countries is an example for the other NAM member countries to join the gesture of strengthening ties with other members of the organization. Despite the geographical distance, the two countries hold common views on many international issues including the establishment of justice, disarmament, human rights and sovereignty of the world nations. The two countries have set up an example for other nations which aim at bringing mutual development for nations and preserve their existence without being a ally of any super power. Strategic cooperation can take place between Cuba and Iran in bilateral and multilateral levels.

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