The presence of more than two thousand businesspeople from across 60 countries at Havana´s 32nd International Fair (FIHAV 2014) endorsed Cuba´s desire to increasingly take part in the world economy and demonstrated international support towards this objective. The Fair, which took place from November 2 to 8, was the perfect venue not only for entrepreneurs already established on the Island but also for new potential associates attracted by the opportunities presented by the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM) and the new Foreign Investment Policy.
At the Fair´s opening, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (Mincex) Rodrigo Malmierca, affirmed that the high number of visitors and rented spaces ratified its prestige at a national and international level and showed the confidence of Cuba´s present and future trading partners.
Workshops were held to present new possibilities in the departments of Industry, Energy and Mines, Agriculture, Food, Tourism, the Azcuba Group and the Medical Services Trading Company.
In addition, during each day of the Fair managerial forums were held between Cuba and Russia, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, China, South Africa, Hungary, Canada and Italy, in addition to a conference on the European Union´s exports and its interest in extending its commercial relations with the Island. With a extensive agenda, this commercial exchange served as the stage to present Cuba´s Business Portfolio, which covers 246 projects involving a total of approximately $ 8.7 million, which, Malmierca explained, are propositions presented by national companies interested in gaining access to foreign financing and technologies.
Also included in this Portfolio are initiatives that are presently in the process of being negotiated with the goal of attracting investment in areas necessary for the development of the national economy, as well as prospective plans for development. The exhibition of Ann Tereza Igarza, General Manager of the Office of the ZEDM, sparked similar interest. She stated that approximately 30 countries have proposed investments in this enclave, among them Spain, Italy, China, Russia, France, Vietnam, Brazil, Mexico, Holland and Canada.
Igarza added that by the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015, the first projects will be established in the areas of agribusiness, textiles, construction and renewable energy.
The Business Portfolio consists of 25 projects trying to establish themselves in the strip located at 45 kms west of Havana, prioritizing the steel, chemical, electronic and biotechnological industries as well as the production of medicines.
The ZEDM offers many advantages from a regulatory perspective with a special management and approval process as well as the efficient presence and support of the Office for Investors. To give free rein to any interest or proposal an investor´s guide was presented covering national and international environments, investment potential, cultural and social considerations, partnering with foreign organizations, as well as recognition for collaboration in different spheres in accordance with foreign trade agreements.
It also includes the characteristics and possibilities of the container terminal, the first infrastructure project at investors´ disposal likely to become Latin America´s logistics center for international maritime trade.
National Days and Official Visits
As per tradition, several countries celebrated their National Day at FIHAV 2014. Specifically, Canada´s took place during the third day of the event, an opportunity to also inaugurate its pavillion, where a wide variety of products and technologies represented by 73 companies were exposed.
During the ceremony, Ileana Núñez, Mincex´ Vice Minister, emphasized that Canada holds its place as the top country with the most travellers coming to Cuba, demonstrated in that “about 1.1 million Canadian visitors came to Cuba in the first semester, more than a third of the total average yearly number ¨.
She added that with regard to commercial trade Canada is Cuba´s fourth most important associate with business related to the energy, mining and petroleum industry.
Yves Gagnon, Canada´s ambassador to Cuba, highlighted the large presence of Canadian businesspeople at this Trade Fair, particularly in the areas of renewable energy, agribusiness, tourism, oil and paper.
Similar celebrations were also held by Russia, Portugal, China, Spain, Mexico,Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, Italy, Chile, Holland, France, United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany and Panama.
Institutions promoting commerce and trade that had an active participation included: the Brazilian Agency of Promotion of Exports and Investments (APEX-Brazil ), the Italo-Cuban Chamber of Commerce, ProChile, Proexport Colombia, ProMéxico, Promote Bolivia and the ProEcuador Institute.
Among high government officials, FIHAV was privileged to receive Vasant Bhath, Trinidad and Tobago´s Minister of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communication and Colin James, Antigua and Barbuda´s Minister of State and Secretary of Commerce.
Also walking Pabexpo´s pavillions were El Salvador´s Economy Vice-President and Vice-Minister, respectively Oscar Ortiz and Luz Estrella Rodríguez; Uruguay´s Minister of Foreign Relations Luis Almagro, and Bolivia´s Minister of Productive Development and Plural Economy Teresa Morales, among others.
According to the Cuba´s Vice-President of the Council of Ministers, Ricardo Cabrisas, this Fair´s edition achieved excellent results, as demontrated by major technological developments and top quality product presentations, in addition to the interest sparked by Cuba´s new investment opportunities.