Investing in Cuba

Cuba-Italy business Forum explores business opportunities

The Cuban-Italian business forum took place this week at the Hotel Nacional in Havana. Photo: Twitter @MMarreroCruz

Approximately 30 Italian companies, including 100 businesspeople, took part in the Cuba-Italy Business Forum at Havana’s Hotel Nacional. The firms explored business opportunities in the various sectors.

This is the first delegation of its kind to arrive in the country after the end of pandemic restrictions.

The business forum participants are interested in strengthening ties in trade, investment, and cooperation.

Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz highlighted the potential to develop relations and the importance of promoting foreign direct investment (FDI). The forum marks a before and after in economic relations and ties between the two countries. He said that despite the U.S. blockade against Cuba, “Cuba is open to the world. All entrepreneurs with competitive proposals to invest in mutually advantageous conditions are welcome.”

He also said that the Island is in a much more favorable situation. Making it possible to trace the gradual opening of all socio-economic activities, including travel. “We are entering a gradual phase of recovery, which has been influenced by the results of the Covid vaccination,” he said.

He discussed the diversification of economic players including the strengthening of state enterprise and MSMEs businesses on the scene.

Regarding foreign investment, vital for economic development, Marrero Cruz announced that on November 27, the Council of Ministers will hold a meeting to approve an update of the FDI policy, “which will facilitate and stimulate investment and business.”

Minister Marrero emphasized the positive relations between Cuba and Italy. He pointed out the excellent state of trade, investment, and cooperation, strengthened during the pandemic. He thanked Italy for the donations to Cuba for the fight against COVID-19 and spoke of the work of the Cuban medical brigades that served in the regions of Lombardy and Piedmont.

Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, spoke of the complex context in which the Cuban and international economy is operating. He also presented an update on the new policies to boost business in Cuba.

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On Cuba-Italy economic ties, the minister spoke of the presence of Italian companies on the island including three projects in the Mariel Special Development Zone, 45 representative offices, 17 investors, and six travel agencies.

Malmierca Díaz said there are currently eight projects under negotiation. He spoke of the sectors of interest for Cuba and Italy, the light, chemical, and electronic industries, energy, tourism, agriculture, transportation, construction, and professional services.

“We think there is a lot of potential and good prospects for the promotion of Italian investment in Cuba, based on the new portfolio of opportunities that will be presented on Tuesday, November 30.”

Claudio Cardini, of the Daiquiri Tours group, presented the projects it is currently promoting in Cuba. Among those mentioned, is the development of a water park near the National Aquarium.

Attendees at the Cuba-Italy Business Forum included Antonio Carricarte Corona, president of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce; Roberto Vellano, the Italian ambassador in Havana, and officials from the Ministries of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Culture, Industry, Energy and Mines, Tourism, Science, Technology and Environment, Communications, Transport, Agriculture and Construction.

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