Cuba hopes for more investment as Chinese president arrives
* Chinese president to review foreign investment reforms
* Only two Chinese ventures on the island
By Marc Frank
HAVANA, July 21 (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a two day visit to Cuba on Monday evening, stirring hopes on the island that China will finally invest in the country after a number of important deals never materialized.
Xi was to meet with President Raul Castro on Tuesday and then fly to Santiago de Cuba to see plans to improve port facilities and recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy, which devastated Cuba's second city almost two years ago.
Xi was in Brazil last week for a summit of the BRICS nations, which also includes Russia, India and South Africa. He then traveled to Argentina and Venezuela, signing a raft of multi-billion dollar credit and investment agreements, before stopping in Cuba on his way home.
Communist-run China and Cuba are close political allies. Generous trade credits have made China the island's largest creditor and second biggest trade partner after Venezuela at $1.4 billion last year.
China has rescheduled Cuba's government and commercial debt, believed to top $6 billion. But large investment agreements for the nickel industry, signed in 2000, another in hotels, and a deal to expand an oil refinery agreed five years ago, have not materialized.
Chinese-made cars, buses, locomotives, ships and household appliances are increasingly prevalent in Cuba. China's flag flies from leased oil rigs along the northwest coast and a modern container port boasts Chinese equipment, but direct investments are limited to a communications venture established 15 years ago and an onshore oil block in Pinar del Rio province. Continuación...