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Population growth
0.13 %  
GDP per capita
Source: World Bank, latest available data

Italian Cooperation in the country

Cuba was recently included among the geographical priorities of the Italian Cooperation. The political dialogue between Italy and Cuba in the field of development cooperation was reignited on October 15, 2009, when the then Italian Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and the Cuban Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs signed a joint bilateral declaration on cooperation that allowed the parties to renew the contacts, which had been interrupted since 2003. This allowed the Italian Cooperation to start a technical dialogue with the Cuban counterpart, for the definition of a general reference framework of the cooperative activities of mutual interest.

A further leap in quality in the bilateral dialogue was achieved with the signing of a Declaration of Intent on the launch of new cooperation projects, signed by the parties in March 2011, with particular attention to: rural development and food security, the protection of heritage cultural - through the important collaboration with the Italian-Latin American Institute (IILA), and the governance of the territories. These are sectors in which Cuba particularly aims to support its economic growth.

On March 16, 2011, the Executive Committee for Development Cooperation approved the inclusion of Cuba among the priority countries for the Italian Cooperation Guidelines, intending, in this way, to reinforce the political dialogue through which to follow the evolution of the reform process undertaken by the country’s government. Cuba has since always been confirmed among the priority countries for Italian Cooperation.

In January 2016, the mission in Havana of an AICS expert was launched, aimed at ensuring a more continuous monitoring of the projects and at encouraging the definition of new initiatives. The AICS office in Havana responsible for the Republic of Cuba, has been active since 1 January 2017 with a Director, in accordance with the resolution of the Joint Committee no. 103/2016. The office has been operational since January 2018, with gradual recruitment of technical and support staff.

The sectors on which Italian action is concentrated have been identified in

• Sustainable rural development and food security

• Culture and heritage protection

• Local economic development

In addition, resources deriving from the Debt-for-development Swap are also to be provided. On December 12, 2015 Italy, along with 13 other creditor countries and members of the Paris Club - France, Spain, Japan, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland - signed a historic agreement with Cuba for the restructuring of its foreign debt. The Agreement provides for the treatment of a total stock of global debt towards all Creditor countries of USD 11.1 billion and includes the payment in arrears of 18 years (approximately USD 2.6 billion), along with the progressive cancellation of late interest (about USD 8.5 billion).

Italy, Cuba’s fourth largest creditor after France, Spain and Japan, with a debt of approximately USD 507 million, played an important role in the finalization of negotiations, offering the possibility to convert part of the arrears into development projects, to be bilaterally agreed on. In response to the Cuban request for further efforts by the main creditors, the swap of the arrears of Italy’s aid credit was agreed, for around € 13.37 million, in addition to the conversion quota of trade receivables by SACE-CDP for 88.8 million euros.

The Agreement for the conversion of debt into Official Development Assistance (ODA), signed in Havana in July 2016 by the then Deputy Minister, establishes the conversion of all the arrears of the aid credit into projects (about € 13.37 million) and the progressive cancellation of all late interest (equal to approximately € 5.7 million). The sectors of reference for these resources will be those aimed at sustainable human and socio-economic development, in synergy with the priority thematic sectors of Italian Cooperation.


Strategic development document in the country

The "Plan Nacional de Desarrollo Económico y Social hasta 2030", presented in April 2016 during the 7th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, guides the Cuban planning system and directs its development with a medium- and long-term strategic vision. The Plan is consistent with the Guidelines "Lineamientos de la Política Económica y Social del Partido y la Revolución", last updated in 2016. The document proposes the vision of the country - defined as “sovereign, independent, socialist, prosperous and sustainable”. In order to contribute to this vision, the following strategic axes have been identified:

• effective and socialist government and social integration;

• productive transformation and international integration;

• infrastructure development;

• human potential, science, technology and innovation;

• natural resources and the environment;

• human development, fairness and justice.

To promote the structural transformation of the national economy, the Plan identifies the strategic economic sectors and establishes the fundamental methodological principles to deepen and complete analysis. The strategic axes in the plan provide for a logical plan with general and specific objectives within them. Cuba is committed through the plan to align itself with the sustainable development goals developed by the United Nations.

The Italian strategy and the areas of intervention

  1. Sustainable rural development and food security

Italian cooperation has been working in the Cuban agricultural sector for several years and has developed a collaborative strategy in various phases with the competent local authorities, based on the experience accumulated. Its action aims to strengthen the key actors responsible to increase production, integrating the different levels of the system and facilitating feedback and strengthening management capacities at the local level. Special attention goes to initiatives that, in addition to increasing agricultural production, favor a supply chain approach, facilitate interaction between the various competent bodies, and enhance the role of non-state actors, promoting their associations and developing their entrepreneurial skills.

There are many problems affecting the agricultural and food production of the country. The production of seeds, for example, must constantly be confronted with a series of limitations such as structural insufficiency for production and the absence of adequate conditions for the storage and conservation of the seeds produced. As for the supply chain of milk, commonly used in the Cuban diet, its annual national production only satisfies 50% of domestic demand (Oficina Nacional de Estadisticas, 2011), mainly due to the low productivity of cows and inadequate conservation due to problems of organization of the milk supply chain at the territorial level.

Another sector in which Italian cooperation is present is the coffee chain. In this case, priority is given to the recovery of crops and the organization of a modern value chain model in various provinces of the island. Crucial is also the introduction of innovations in order to modernize Cuban coffee-making, such as quality control and product traceability. The action of the Italian cooperation aims to contribute to the revitalization and modernization of the coffee sector, intervening on the qualitative aspects of production, but also on those related to the processing and marketing of coffee, through an innovative approach on the value chain, with the intention of increasing productivity and product quality.

The Italian cooperation also works in urban and suburban agriculture, two sectors in line with the policies of territorial decentralization. It is essential for a country's food sovereignty to have a balanced seed quantity in each territory. For this reason, AICS works in conjunction with its partners to strengthen the productive potential of a greater number of species and varieties, contributing significantly to the domestic demand for urban and suburban agriculture.

Some of the main objectives are: to contribute to the achievement of food sovereignty in Cuba (where 70% of food is imported) and to spread a model of ecological agriculture in the country. In the field of dairy production, AICS promotes public-private (cooperative) supply chain models that take into account all the players in the milk chain, from production to distribution, with quality criteria. Training for producers and managers, the strengthening of family animal husbandry with appropriate technology and agronomic practices, the replication of good practices, the participation of women, the promotion of social and cooperative values, the strengthening of local resources and the promotion of consultation spaces between public and private actors are the main elements to implement the initiatives. Actions carried out in this field can also count on the fundamental collaboration with ANAP, ACPA, GEIA and other public and private actors that have a strategic role in the territorial supply chain.

  1. Culture and heritage protection

The Italian cooperation works on the enhancement of the historical-architectural and cultural heritage, in particular in historical urban centers, with architectural interventions aimed at combining the restoration of the artistic value of the buildings with the rehabilitation of their housing function. The aim of its actions is also to develop technical skills and create employment opportunities, with a social and economic impact on the resident population.

In this sense, fundamental is the partnership with L'Oficina del Historiador de La Habana, created in 1928 by Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring for the protection of La Habana Vieja. The restoration process of the historic center underwent an important increase thanks to Eusebio Leal, who became "Historiador" of the city of Havana from 1967, and is currently the highest authority for the complete restoration of the historic center, declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. To date only 33% of the real estate assets of Old Havana have been recovered, while at the national level only recently have they begun to structure similar experiences to the OHCH in the main historical centers.

The action of AICS aims to strengthen the process of conservation, enhancement and dissemination of the cultural heritage of Cuba by increasing the collaboration between public institutions, non-state actors and local communities. The aim is to promote the use of technological and methodological innovations in the conservation and protection of cultural heritage, strengthening the tourism offer and the economic and social growth of the territory. The Italian cooperation also supports the process of integral and integrated revitalization of the Historic Center of Havana started by the Cuban government through the progressive recovery of its historical-cultural heritage.

  1. Local Economic Development

The Italian cooperation in Cuba works on the development of governance and support for good governance with a view to local development and democratic dynamization. The PADIT articulated platform in support of the territorial development promoted by the United Nations, to which Italy provides significant financial support, was developed within the current Cuban context, characterized by a process of redefinition of the socio-economic system launched in 2011 on the basis of the decisions taken in the VI Congress of the Communist Party, and updated in April 2016 for the period 2016-2030.

Furthermore, by aligning with the purposes of the National Economic Development Plan (PNDES) by 2030, the Platform intends to support the processes of administrative decentralization, the strengthening of local and regional skills and capacities in terms of planning, management of integrated social and territorial economic development, and multilevel articulation also through direct support for innovative socio-economic initiatives.

The actions promoted by the Italian cooperation follow the work carried out over the last 30 years in the Cuban territory concerning the improvement of the tools dedicated to the management of local development such as: the PDHL (Local Human Development Program) - to which the Italian Cooperation provided a decisive strategic contribution, as well as financial, still appreciated and recognized by the Cuban partners; the IMDL (Municipal Initiative for local development); the PGTOU (General Plans of territorial and urban organization), the PDI (Integral Development Plan); the CTDL (Territorial contribution for local development) and lastly the reorganization of local bodies implemented in the Provinces of Artemisa and Mayabeque.

In Cuba one of the main drivers of local development is undoubtedly the enhancement of the cultural heritage that AICS promotes through partnerships with the Oficina del Historiador de La Habana (OHCH), created in 1928 by Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring for the protection of the La Habana Vieja, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Eusebio Leal, who since 1967 is "Historiador" of the city of Havana and is currently the highest authority for the complete restoration of the historical center, has exponentially increased the process of restoration of the historic center by experimenting with an integrated model of urban land management that seeks to combine the preservation of heritage with the strengthening of communities. The AICS supports the approach adopted by the OHCH based on the search for innovative solutions for the conservation of historical, artistic and architectural heritage, strengthening its ability to intervene in the restoration and dynamizing the sector thanks to the transfer of skills to non-state actors and to the promotion of a more incisive relationship between tourism and cultural heritage.


Alignment with the local government strategy and harmonization with donor community interventions

Among multilateral interventions, in addition to support for the territorial development process promoted by UNDP, AICS in Cuba supports actions coordinated by WFP in favor of food security and the fight against drought and post-hurricane emergencies (Matthew, Sandy, Irma), as well as the activities implemented by the Italian-Latin American Institute (IILA) for the protection of cultural heritage, the contribution to UNIDO for the strengthening of technology transfer capacities, and the collaboration with UNESCO on the support for the management plan of Havana’s Schools of Arts.

Currently there are four Italian CSOs operating in Cuba - COSPE, CISP, ARCS and GVC - mainly engaged in rural development actions and the safeguarding of artistic and cultural heritage. COSPE, CISP and ARCS are engaged in initiatives co-funded by Italy.

Starting in 1996, relations between the European Union and Cuba were governed by an approved Common Position of the European Council, which defined the European policy. In 2014 the negotiation was started for the signing of a Political and Cooperation Dialogue Agreement between the EU and Cuba, which was signed in Havana in 2016, in the presence of the High Representative for EU foreign policy, Federica Mogherini. The Political and Cooperation Dialogue Agreement between the European Union and the Member States on one side and the Republic of Cuba on the other is currently the legal and institutional framework of reference for bilateral relations.


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12 Show projects list

AICS development projects

€ 7,450,000

Total resources committed

€ 5,349,994

Total resources used

What is it spent for?

The purpose/sector of destination of a bilateral contribution should be selected by answering the question “which specific area of the recipient’s economic or social structure is the transfer intended to foster”. The sector classification does not refer to the type of goods or services provided by the donor. Sector specific education or research activities (e.g. agricultural education) or construction of infrastructure (e.g. agricultural storage) should be reported under the sector to which they are directed, not under education, construction, etc. read more close

By means of?

The typology identifies the modalities that are used in aid delivery. It classifies transfers from the donor to the first recipient of funds (e.g. the recipient country, a multilateral organisation, or a basket fund).  It does not track the end uses of the funds, which is addressed in the sector classification and to some extent through the policy objective markers. read more close

Main ongoing projects

Recipient € Used resources
Hab.A.M.A. – Food self-sufficiency and development of sustainable economic initiatives in Havana CU 3,393,921
PADIT - Localization of the Agenda 2030 in Cuba: implementing local development accions in order to support sustainable socio-economic recovery CU 2,400,000
Technical Assistance Fund CU 1,950,009
Multibilateral contribution to the Multidimensional platform for Territorial integrated development (PADIT) Second phase CU 1,800,000
Improved productivity and quality of Arabica Coffea in the Orient of Cub. Mas Cafe 3 CU 1,604,308
VIA LACTEA: Strengthening the milk value chain in four provinces of Cuba CU 1,270,960
ARCHEO-CUBA Archeology and environmental sustenability for territorial cooperation to combat climate change CU 1,245,177
Strengthening of pineapple and avocado supply CU 1,211,117
Enhancement of the integral urban and suburban farming program in its main components CU 1,120,977
Comprehensive transformation of the Municipio of Habana del Este, a path for the inclusive and sustainable development of the territory CU 1,000,000
Colegio Santa Clara: restoration and promotion of the ancient Santa Clara Monumental Complex CU 1,000,000
Revival of Cuban coffee cultivation, pilot model Guisa Municipality, Granma Province CU 766,346
INNOVA CUBA - international and intersectorial intervention for the safeguard of the cultural Heritage of the country CU 732,064
Do not let the curtain fall - Conservation, management and enhancement of the Faculty of Theatrical Arts CU 650,000
Program to support cultural Heritage of El Cobre CU 600,507
Everybody's house CU 600,000
Contribution to multilateral UNDP for articulated platform for development integral territorial CU 600,000
Climate Change Cuba CU 500,000
Direct Multilateral Contribution to support the implementation of WFP CUBA COUNTRY PROGRAMME 2015-2018 CU 500,000
Hub Particular Participatory policies to leverage the handicraft as an engine for inclusive and sustainable development. CU 461,835
Climate Change Cuba CU 449,743
Do not let the curtain fall - Conservation, management and enhancement of the Faculty of Theatrical Arts CU 400,000
Oriental Cuba Small Historical Centres CU 400,000
Re-launching of coffee prodiction in the cooperative and peasant sector CU 333,921
Increasing the Productivity and Efficiency of selected subsectors of Agro-industrial food processing in Cuba CU 256,277
Supporting the nutrition of vulnerable groups in Cuba CU 250,000
Increasing the Productivity and Efficiency of selected subsectors of Agro-industrial food processing in Cuba (IPEPAC) CU 85,644