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Chinese Deputy Trade Minister Wei JianGuo and Cuban Government Minister Ricardo Cabrisas said in Havana that they had set up a commission to work on joint investments in various sectors.

Bilateral trade between the two countries doubled in 2006 to nearly $1.8 billion, according to the Chinese customs office.

More than two thirds of the trade consisted of Chinese exports of machinery, transportation equipment, consumer and other goods financed by Chinese credits, while Cuba exported nickel, sugar, cigars, rum and services to China.

Chinese appliances now adorn most Cuban kitchens, Chinese buses and locomotives ply the highways and railways and Chinese cranes work the Caribbean island's ports.

"Both parties express their satisfaction with Cuba's complete meeting of all financial obligations," a final declaration at the end of the talks said.

According to the statement, the two countries renewed an agreement under which Cuba exports 400,000 tonnes of raw sugar annually to China and ratified Cuban plans to supply the Asian giant with nickel.

China pledged to continue financing exports of energy, transportation, telecommunications and other equipment and to expand imports of Cuban goods and services.

Cuba has two joint venture pharmaceutical companies in China and a third company providing low-cost eye surgery, with others planned.

"Both parties agree to continue encouraging Chinese companies to participate in the petroleum sector of Cuba," the statement said.

Chinese oil and gas company Sinopec Corp. is in a joint venture to extract oil in Cuba's western Pinar del Rio province, and other companies are considering offshore drilling in Cuba's Gulf of Mexico waters.

The statement said a joint venture hotel in Shanghai would be completed in time for the 2008 Olympics.

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