CUBA has floated 456 projects for the year 2017-2018, Foreign Investment Portfolio opportunities amounting to US $10.7 billion. On the second day of the Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV) on Tuesday, foreign trade and investments minister Rodrigo Malmierca said Cuba needed at least US $2 billion annually in foreign investment to allow a dynamic economic growth anchored on the 2016-2030 national development plan.
He said apart from Cuba’s strategic geographic position in Latin America and the Caribbean, the island had good communication network, more than 20 airports, more than 95 per cent of the country connected to the national electricity grid, and had wide rail and road network.
Malmierca said due to the strategic geographic location between the North and South of the hemisphere, Cuba was a ready and accessible market adding that in 2017, the island was expected to receive 4.5 million foreign tourists compared to four million last year.
“Cuba is the largest island in the West Indies and, setting it apart from other destinations in the Caribbean, it has a tourism product characterized by the hospitality of its people, its exceptional natural attractions, local historic heritage, rich artistic and cultural life, the unique healthcare situation, political stability and safety for tourists,” Malmierca said.
He said the current portfolio incorporated 156 projects, 29 of them in the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM), with a total amount of approximately US $3 billion. Malmierca said the projects were distributed throughout the country and their sectoral composition corresponded to the basis of the National Development Plan 2030.
Most of projects are centered in the tourism, agroforestry, food and sugar, renewable energy, construction, arts and pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. For the first time Cuba included the banking and financial sector including insurance. He said there were some modest advances recorded in 2017 adding that 30 new projects had been approved, eight of them in the ZEDM.
On banking and financial sector, he said the aim of foreign investment was to contribute capital, access to external funding sources, acquiring banking techniques and those business information analysis which fulfill international efficiency and security standards, development of banking/financial relations, access to new products, services and international financial markets.
Insurance-related activities objective of foreign investment was to develop new products and services benefiting the Cuban market and broadening the group of guarantees being offered in support of foreign investment process taking place in Cuba.
Under culture, he said Cuba had 25 companies providing their products and services in the various manifestations of the arts and shows, covering the visual arts, the press, theater arts, the music industry, the cinematographic and audiovisual industry and companies related to the creative industries promoting and commercializing the work of thousands of creators in the visual and applied arts, and arts and crafts, in general.
The sectoral policy is oriented towards the diversification and amplification of export markets for the Cuban cultural product and for cultural tourism, the development of logistical systems to develop creative Cuban industries, as well as access to advanced technologies for the production and commercialization of the cinema, music, and live shows.
Malmierca said there were eight extensions and reinvestments signed. He said for the first time since Cuba approved the new law on foreign investments in 2014, the island in 2017 had received the required US $2 billion in committed foreign capital investments.
“We have said it is not something that we are certain to be achieve [year in, year out] but that is what the economy needs based on the 20 per cent accumulation rate to facilitate dynamic economic growth,” Malmierca said.
He said since 2014, some 25 new businesses had been opened in the ZEDM, 85 outside the zone, 22 reinvestments, with companies from more than 20 countries. Malmierca said Cuba prioritized market diversification to the maximum and the island treated all would-be investors equally.
He said significant investments approved were in such strategic sectors of the economy such as renewable energy, tourism, construction, mining and oil exploration, together with financial services and industry, especially the light, food and sugar industries.
Malmierca said currently, 80 projects were in the negotiation phase but 15 of them at an advanced stage with high possibility of being approved before the end of the year for an estimated US $1 billion.
“We are aware that attracting investment is a gradual process in which we have modestly advanced but we still have a lot to do,” said Malmierca. “From the government, we keep on stimulating the fulfillment of the foreign investment policy which includes measures to facilitate functioning of established businesses in the country. We continue the work directed to the preparation of personnel so that our negotiators can work in an agile way. We shall continue studying new opportunities to ensure diversification of our commercial and investment relations and not rely on a single trade partners.”