How to Invest in the Cuban Economy

Cuban-Chamber-of-Commerce-HavanaCuban Chamber of Commerce (the Cámara de Comercio de Cuba) in Vedado, Havana. PHOTO: CUBA BUSINESS REPORT/M. HERNÁNDEZ

Cuba has a large portfolio of investment opportunities available for potential foreign investors. The Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Investment summary of available investment sectors offers  multiple opportunities in agriculture, forestry, food and sugar industries, industry, tourism, energy and renewable energy, mining, transportation, drug and biotechnology, health, construction and the business sectors. These 300 plus investment opportunities come with a completed viability or pre-feasibility study.

One way to invest in Cuba is to invest in small business in Cuba.  The Cuban government has allowed more aspiring entrepreneurs to start small businesses by expanding the list of permitted businesses. Small business entrepreneurs are sometimes limited by a lack of accessibility to startup or growth capital for their business. Investing in a small business in Cuba creates not only the growth of the enterprise but also job creation.

The government is showing signs of embracing change in order to promote economic growth. The past year has witnessed many meetings with many foreign governments in order to expand bilateral relations with other countries.  Business groups and trade forums continue to take place.  Cooperation agreements have been signed.  Cuba is not waiting.

Interested in investing in Cuba? Check your local government’s trade policies on Cuba.  Get a feel for the destination of your potential investment.  Visit Cuba and get to know this country and its people.

A good place to start is to attend the trade fair known as the FIHAV, the Feria Internacional held each Autumn around the end to beginning of November in Havana.  Cuba promotes its industry exports (products and services) at the FIHAV in an effort to attract much needed foreign investment.  Visiting foreign corporations at the FIHAV show off their products and services.  The FIHAV is huge, and also the most important business fair in the Latin American region.

Take a look also at the Mariel Special Development Zone at the Port of Mariel.  Predicted to become a major logistical hub for the Americas and a serious rival to Panama, it offers eight approved investment projects. Their website provides an excellent breakdown of their goal to attract foreign investment and identifies the complete process from the initial assessment to final approval which can take up to 180 days.

Investing in Cuba goes through various stages between the investor and the government from the exploratory stage, to the identification of potential business partners, and then negotiation.  The documentation of the investment is then presented to the appropriate  government department (MINCEX, MINTUR or ZEDM).  Following a successful project/investment evaluation by an Advisory Commission, it will then be approved by the related government agency.  If the foreign investment is the right fit for Cuba such as those found in the Portfolio of Opportunities, the investment will move forward.

But investment opportunities are not limited to those found in the official Portfolio of Opportunities.   Foreign investors can also bring to the table a proposal of a specific project that is not mentioned here.  First steps for foreign investors?  A completed business proposal is the first step of your investment journey.  Investors can then contact the nearest Cuban embassy or Consulate in the  home country to request an initial project/investment review.  Again, a prepared business proposal must be ready for presentation.

Other options for investors include contacting the Cuban Chamber of Commerce/Cámara de Comercio de la República de Cuba or the ProCuba office, both located in Havana.  There is only one official Cuban Chamber of Commerce (the Cámara de Comercio) and the office is located at Calle 10 no. 512 between 31 and 5ya Avenida.

ProCuba is the center for the promotion of foreign trade and investment and is responsible for the promotion of business opportunities and helping foreign investors and businesses in Cuba. It is associated with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment.  For further information, visit their website at: http://www.cepec.cu (website only in Spanish at the current time).  Their telephone number is (+53) 7214-4339.

An investment venture in Cuba begins with discussions and negotiations taking place between foreign and Cuban investors. These negotiations include the economic feasibility of the project, the capital investment of both sides, the management and administration of the investment, and the legal documents required.

The following documents are required in the investment process:

  1.  A project description,
  2. Identification of the business partners,
  3. Authorized copy of registered deeds of incorporation,  the business registration certificate  or  a similar document from the country of origin, no older than six months,
  4. Financial  statements of  the last accounting  period,  certified by an independent entity,
  5. Bank statements and guarantees no older than six months,
  6. Letter from the head office of a business if the investor is a branch or subsidiary or is represented by an off shore trading company,
  7. Certified consent of  the  management  body which expresses the approval of the intended investment,
  8. Duly authenticated powers of attorney,
  9. Evidence of experience in the activity targeted for the investment,
  10. The investor must submit identification documents and bank guarantees, no older than six months.

All incorporation documents, registration documents and powers of attorney must be 1.) translated into Spanish and 2.) notarized by the authorities of the investor’s country of origin and the Cuban Consulate in that country.

Updated March 10, 2017

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