OREANDA-NEWS. August 24, 2017. A sharp decline in Venezuela supply of crude and refined products to Cuba last year led to China overtaking the South American country as the Caribbean island's main trading partner, according to official Cuban data.

Bilateral trade between Cuba and Venezuela, close political allies, was valued at $2.22bn in 2016, down by 47pc year over year, while trade with China reached $2.58bn, down by 0.5pc on the previous year.

Cuba's imports from Venezuela in 2016 were valued at $1.58bn, 43pc below 2015.

The value of Cuba's trade with Venezuela in 2016 plunged by 70pc from 2014, according to the data.

Cuba's exports to Venezuela were valued at $642.2mn in 2016, 55pc less than in the previous year.

"It was the reduction in crude and refined products that was mainly responsible for the lower trade volume with Venezuela," an official of Cuba's state-owned oil company Cupet tells Argus.

"But the trade figures also reflect lower prices for the imports over the past two years."

Venezuela's state-owned oil company PdV had traditionally supplied Cuba with between 100,000-110,000 b/d of crude and products under preferential terms based on an agreement signed in 2000.

The oil supplies, part of a barter arrangement in which Havana provides medical, security and sports experts and products such as pharmaceuticals in lieu of cash, supplement Cuban oil production of around 50,000 b/d.