Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard meets with Cuban President Raul Castro
Last year, Quebec exports to Cuba were $84 million
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard wrapped up his two-day visit to Cuba on Tuesday with a surprise meeting with President Raul Castro — a meeting that was not on the premier's original schedule.
Couillard — the first Quebec premier to make an official visit to Cuba — later took to Twitter to describe the meeting as "fruitful" and say that Castro expressed a desire to advance the Quebec-Cuba relationship.
The two sides reached an agreement on tourism during the visit, and according to Radio-Canada, Couillard also reached a verbal agreement in principle to install a permanent Quebec representative in Cuba.
The premier was in the country as part of a trade delegation involving some 40 Quebec companies from such fields as construction, food processing, renewable energy, science and technology and tourism.
Rencontre fructueuse avec président Raùl Castro. Il confirme son désir de faire progresser la relation <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/QcCuba?src=hash">#QcCuba</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZeO5q0t2tR">pic.twitter.com/ZeO5q0t2tR</a>—@phcouillard
In 2014, Cuba was Quebec's 45th largest trading partner. Last year, Quebec exports to Cuba were only $84 million, which is about one per cent of total provincial exports abroad.
Couillard said he hoped Quebec could take advantage of the nation's economic recovery as former diplomatic tensions thaw between the communist island and the United States.
The trade delegation will continue discussions in Cuba until Friday.