Cuba, with its economy crippled by six decades of US sanctions, has come up with an unusual way to repay its multimillion dollar debt to the Czech Republic – bottles of its famous rum. If the offer is accepted, the Czech Republic will have rum reserves that will surely last for over a century.
Michal Zurovec, a spokesman for the Czech finance ministry, said that Cuban authorities have proposed to pay back $276m to the Czech Republic from the time both countries were part of the communist bloc.
While Prague was open to the idea of the trade, Zurovic said it would still prefer the debt was at least partly paid in cash, the BBC reported on Friday.
Cuba’s total 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.
The offer to repay debt in kind has precedence. 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.