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Caterpillar Distributor RIMCO to Open Warehouse at ZEDM

ZEDM, Mariel, Special Development Zone
ZEDM - Port of Mariel Special Economic Development Zone.

Caterpillar’s Puerto Rico based distributor, RIMCO, will be the first American corporation to set up shop at the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone (ZEDM). The company will be building a warehouse and distribution center at the Port.

Ana Teresa Igarza, Managing Director at ZEDM, told a press conference at the Feria Internacional de la Habana (FIHAV) that RIMCO will be locating in the Special Development Zone next year.

The Mariel ZEDM is a port and container terminal with the objective of attracting foreign investment, developing technical innovation and sustainable development.  To date, there are currently ten companies in the Special Development Zone and another four plants are expected to open in early 2018.  Since November of 2016, 12 new projects were approved, originating from Cuba, Portugal, Switzerland, Canada, Russia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Spain and France.  ZEDM is set to be a major hub port for the Caribbean and Latin American regions.

Managing Director, Igarza, told the press conference that currently 31 approved businesses, five Cuban companies, 16 foreign companies, eight joint ventures, and two international economic associations have been approved in the Zone.  It is expected that in early 2018 another four plants are expected to open.  Two other American companies are currently in negotiations.

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The Caterpillar – RIMCO deal was signed just before President Trump announced his regressionist policy towards Cuba. Any American companies that signed contracts before this reversal, will still move forward.

James Williams, President of Engage Cuba, an advocacy group working to end  trade and travel restrictions against Cuba in Washington, D.C. said, “Despite President Trump’s harsh rhetoric, Cuba is open for business. The question is, will President Trump and Congress allow U.S. companies to compete for these growing opportunities, or keep them on the sidelines as Cuba’s markets continue to grow?”

Caroline McConnie, RIMCO’s Vice President, explained to a crowd at a FIHAV press conference, “We are going to set up a warehouse and distribution center at Mariel and we will be distributing Caterpillar equipment. We have a license from the Commerce Department and other agencies.”

Caterpillar Inc, a heavy equipment manufacturer sells tractors, machinery, engines, construction and mining equipment, power systems, marine and industrial engines.  The Corporation is based in Illinois.  The Caterpillar-RIMCO deal was announced in February of last year.  Caterpillar is an early mover into Cuba.

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Caterpillar is one of the many corporations which have advocated against the embargo. Caterpillar is unable to manufacture Caterpillar equipment in Cuba because of the restrictions against American business in Cuba caused by the embargo.

“For almost 20 years, Caterpillar has strongly advocated for engagement rather than isolation in Cuba,” said Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman. “We’ve also called on the U.S. government to lift the trade embargo because, in our view, the current isolationist policy hasn’t worked.”

RIMCO, a privately held business, is the exclusive Caterpillar dealer for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Barbados, and the Eastern Caribbean Islands.

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