Cuba's Expocaribe trade fair returns after two-year pandemic hiatus

HAVANA, June 24 (Xinhua) -- The International Expocaribe trade fair has returned for its 17th edition in Cuba's eastern province of Santiago de Cuba following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Running through June 23 to 26, the event gathers business representatives and government officials from more than 20 countries, largely from Cuba and the Caribbean.

Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca said the unity of the Caribbean is essential to tackling the huge challenges ahead.

"The U.S. economic, trade and financial blockade is the main obstacle to the development of Cuba," he said, adding the trade fair also aims to attract foreign investment to eastern Cuba.

This year's expo comes as Cuba and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) mark 50 years of bilateral relations in 2022.

Antonio Carricarte, president of Cuba's Chamber of Commerce, said the expo is fundamental to promoting Cuban exports of goods and services.

Expocaribe "is an expression of the willingness to integrate and the role it plays in Cuba's economic model," Carricarte said, stressing the importance of multilateral cooperation nowadays.

Established in 1992, Expocaribe is the second largest fair in Cuba after Havana's International Trade Fair.

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