Cuba offers to pay off £222m Cold War debt to Czech Republic with rum

If the offer is accepted, the central European nation would have rum reserves to last over a century

Zlata Rodionova
Friday 16 December 2016 11:24
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Pernod Ricard's Havana Club is the fifth-largest rum brand in the world, with almost 4 million cases sold in 2012–2013 across 120 countries
Pernod Ricard's Havana Club is the fifth-largest rum brand in the world, with almost 4 million cases sold in 2012–2013 across 120 countries

The government of Cuba has proposed resolving a Cold War-era debt by paying the Czech Republic in rum, a trademark Cuban commodity.

Michal Zurovec, a spokesman for the Czech finance ministry, said that Cuban authorities have proposed to pay back $276m (£222m) to the Czech Republic from the time both countries were part of the communist bloc.

If the offer is accepted, the central European nation would have rum reserves to last over a century.

The Czechs imported rum from Cuba worth over $2 m last year, according to the Czech Statistics Office.

While Prague was open to the idea of the trade, Mr Zurovic said it would still prefer the debt was a least partly paid in cash.

In total, Cuba’s external government debt is about $24.7bn, or about 31 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to estimates by Moody’s.

Pernod Ricard's Havana Club is the fifth-largest rum brand in the world, with almost 4 million cases sold in 2012–2013 across 120 countries. France and Germany are among the biggest markets for the Cuban rum brand.

In the past, North Korea offered to repay its $10m (£8m) debt in products made with ginseng.

In 1993, Russia offered New Zealand Mig Fighter jets, tanks and nuclear submarine in an attempt to wipe out the $100m debt it owed New Zealand for imports of its dairy product.

Additional reporting by AP

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