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Last Updated : Nov 05, 2018 08:54 PM IST | Source: PTI

US embargo on Cuba adversely hit tech, drug transfer from India: UN report

India was among the 189 UN member states that voted last week in the UNGA in favour of condemning the US' economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba -- a call that has made every year since 1992.

Transfer of technology and important drugs from Indian entities to Cuba has been adversely impacted due to the decades-long US embargo on the caribbean island nation, according to a report by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) had in a resolution titled 'Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the US against Cuba' requested the UN chief to prepare, in consultation with the appropriate organs and agencies of the UN system, a report on the implementation of the resolution.

India was among the 189 UN member states that voted last week in the UNGA in favour of condemning the US' economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba -- a call that has made every year since 1992. Only the US and Israel had voted against the UNGA resolution.

The report noted that not only has the embargo against Cuba remained in force, it has been tightened, as demonstrated by examples of the effects of the policy on Cuban entities and on third parties.

On November 9, 2017, the US arbitrarily banned direct financial transactions with 179 Cuban institutions in various sectors, which has a negative impact on the country's economic development and an intimidating effect on companies in the US or third countries that wish to establish economic, commercial and banking relations with Cuba.

According to the report, some specific examples of the implementation of this policy include instances of Indian entities.

On February 12, 2018, it was reported that five Indian banks had refused to carry out a transfer from the office of the UN Development Programme in Cuba to the Indian company Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies, because of the regulations of the US embargo.

In March 2018, MediCuba, the Cuban company that imports and exports medical products, was informed that the Indian company Aculife had refused to make direct shipments to Cuba of levofloxacin, a drug used to treat bacterial skin infections, bronchitis and pneumonia, among other diseases. "This was because the Indian company's bank would not authorise the payments made by Cuba, since the shipping documents supporting the payment had a country under embargo as the final destination," the report said.

The instance of the case between Aculife and MediCuba has been cited among "examples of the damage resulting from the embargo in the health sector".

The report also includes replies from various governments and UN organs to the request of Guterres for information on the matter.

According to India, it has not promulgated or applied any laws of the type referred to in the preamble of the UNGA resolution on Cuba, and, as such, the necessity of repealing or invalidating any such laws or measures does not arise.

"India has consistently opposed any unilateral measure by countries that impinge on the sovereignty of another country. These include any attempt to extend the application of a country's laws extra-territorially to other sovereign nations," the country's reply said.

India further urged the international community to adopt all necessary measures to protect the sovereign rights of all countries.

The report noted that the embargo has had a direct impact on all UNDP development projects and emergency activities as it increases the transaction costs of obtaining project inputs and also the cost of transporting the imported goods.

"Finding alternative shipping companies requires additional time and effort. As a result, projects have been affected by significant delays in the purchase and distribution of project inputs, which has had a negative impact on the timely implementation of project activities and results," the report said.

It said the situation has been particularly worrisome in the case of projects related to food security and local development, given the lengthy process to access and import agricultural inputs such as irrigation systems, machinery and agricultural tools.

It cited the example of an ongoing development project that aims to implement measures to adapt to climate change in food production, a gasification plant that uses rice husks was contracted.

The technology was received by the beneficiaries of the project. "However, as of today, it has not been possible to realize the bank transfer to the supplier. According to the supplier Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies, the State Bank of India has refused to receive the funds because the transaction is related to a project implemented in Cuba. In this context, it has been impossible to fulfil the payment to the supplier and the implementation of the project has been delayed," the report said.

The Cuban companies responsible for manufacturing food products in the country are forced to import approximately 70 percent of their raw materials from different markets like Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, India, Italy, Mexico and Spain.

Moreover, as a result of the blockade, Cuba has not been allowed to buy from the US market, which happens to be very attractive, given its prices and its proximity to Cuba, the report said.
First Published on Nov 5, 2018 08:42 pm
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