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Foreign Investment in Cuba

The Special Economic Development Zone of Mariel (ZEDM)

Port-of-Mariel-special-project-container-ship
Photo courtesy of ZED Mariel.

Like many other nations, Cuba has constructed a trade and investment zone called the Special Economic Development Zone of Mariel. Cuba knows that countries and companies will be there – for profit opportunities. US companies have been encouraged to invest, in spite of the current regulatory laws of the U.S. (which are rapidly evolving).  With the ability to handle 824,000 container ships, the Port of Mariel could become one of the major competitive hub ports of the Caribbean region.

Under contract with the Cuban government and in partnership with the Cuban company “Zona de Desarrollo Integral de Mariel,” the Brazilian engineering group Grupo Odebrecht constructed the new port and container terminal.  Operation of the Port is managed by PSA International which manages a number of international ports.

Located 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Havana, the Special Economic Development Zone of Mariel port is a project with the objective of attracting foreign investment, developing technical innovation and sustainable development. Its purpose is also to generate new sources of employment and long term funding necessary for the development and expansion of the Cuban economy. The Zone include the promotion of industrial, agricultural, metal-mechanical industries, technology, tourism and clean technologies.

Objectives of the Special Economic Development Zone of Mariel:

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  • Increase exports
  • Reduce reliance on imports
  • Provide employment
  • Promote innovative technological advancement
  • Develop infrastructure and services conducive to the ongoing success of the investments established at the Mariel Port.

Sectors of Interest:

  • Biotechnology, development and production of medicines
  • Packing and packaging industry
  • Renewable energies
  • Agro-food industry
  • Renewable energies
  • Industry
  • Telecommunications and informatics
  • Tourism and real estate
  • Infrastructure investment

Corporations established to date at the Special Development Zone at Mariel  include companies from Mexico, two from Belgium and one from Spain. Industries sectors invested at Mariel include food, chemicals and logistics and expected to launch operations in the first half of 2016.

Most recently, the Anglo-Dutch company Unilever, partnered with state-owned Intersuchel in a joint $35 US million venture forming a new company “Unilever-Suchel S.A.”  Unilever owns 60% of Unilever-Suchel S.A., with Intersuchel Cuba owning the other 40%. Unilever will be constructing a factory to manufacture the Unilever brands of shampoo, deodorant, soaps and toothpaste etc.  The factory is expected to generate 300 direct jobs.

U.S. corporations are also interested. Cleber LLC of Alabama  is interested in constructing a tractor assembly plant at the Special Development Zone at Mariel.  They have applied for a U.S. Treasury license.

At the offices at the Port of Mariel a plaque on summarizes the vision for the terminal:

“Mariel Containers Terminal: Door to the Americas.”

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For more information on investing, visit the official website of the Special Economic Development Zone.

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