Business & Economy

Cuba seeking to attract investment at 2nd Business Forum amid crisis

Havana, Nov 4 (EFE).- With the 2nd Cuban Business Forum, scheduled for Nov. 29-Dec. 2 in Havana, the island’s regime hopes to welcome representatives of firms from 41 countries and to include a panel for Cubans living abroad, Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca said Thursday.

At a press conference, the minister said that the forum and the virtual business fair, which will also take place on those dates, will promote business exchange, replacing the Havana International Fair, which was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cuban government this year is offering 503 “opportunities” valued at $12 billion in “small undertakings” and other initiatives to foreign businessmen ready and willing to operate in Cuba.

The prevailing law on foreign trade never prohibited the possibility of investment by Cuban citizens, but the authorities have been reluctant so far to allow those types of business activities on the communist island.

Malmierca said Thursday that those investments have not been firmed up due to “material factors” and because the “foreign investment development policy is prioritized by sectors.”

Nevertheless, he said that attracting “all foreign capital” is in Cuba’s interest.

The majority of Cubans who have emigrated live in the United States, which maintains economic sanctions on the island and limits the possibility of investing there.

Attracting foreign investment is important for the Cuban economy, which is mired in an acute crisis due to the tightening of the US embargo, the pandemic and the economic reforms that have proven to be ineffective or insufficient, among other factors.

To support its economy, Cuba needs more than $2 billion annually in foreign investment to generate exports, replace imports and promote production chains, according to official estimates.

However, in 2020 it obtained only $1.895 billion in 29 projects in sectors like tourism, construction, mining and industry.

Some 280 companies from about 40 countries – including Spain, Canada and Chile – operate in Cuba at present.

EFE lbp/lh/rrt/bp

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