By Marc Frank | Reuters
Cuba’s actively serviced foreign debt jumped nearly $2 billion in 2006 to $7.794 billion as foreign suppliers more than doubled their credits to the country, according to figures posted on the Web site of the National Statistics Office on Friday.
Most of Cuba’s new debt was believed by local analysts to be due to fresh credits from China and Venezuela.
In 2005, Cuba’s “active” debt, or debt on which Cuba pays interest and principal, stood at $5.898 billion. The so-called active debt was borrowed since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Debt owed to suppliers jumped to 36.2 percent of the total last year, more than double the 16 percent share in 2005 as trade with China nearly doubled. Foreign supplier debt usually refers to financing extended with the shipments of goods to a country.
Venezuela extends up to 60 percent credit on its oil supplies to Cuba, thought it was not clear if all the loans were classified as being related to suppliers.
Cuba last reported its “inactive” debt, or the debt it is not paying interest on and which was built up after Cuba defaulted on its obligations in the 1980s, as $8 billion in 2004.
That would mean total foreign debt could be close to $16 billion in 2006, given that most of the inactive debt is denominated in non-U.S. currencies that have appreciated against the greenback since then.