Cuba promoting Special development zones with Brazilian financial support
Cuban Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca underlined the crucial role of foreign investment for the development of Cuban Special Development Zones”.
Addressing the 8th International Meeting on Foreign Trade and Investment at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Malmierca said the Zones aim is to convince more foreign investors to engage in activities that will produce high value-added goods and service exports.
“This is an activity in which foreign investors haven’t engaged in sufficiently,” Malmierca said. “That’s why we are working on the diversification of destinations for exportable goods and services, with preference on those with the highest added value and technological content.”
According to a ministry expert at the event, investors in the Zones will enjoy “rapidity and simplified, low-cost administrative and customs processes.” The Zones, Malmierca emphasized, are not a revival of the extinct free trade zones, but “special enclaves” designed to boost “the interests of the country’s economic development.”
He particularly highlighted the importance of the port of Mariel expansion (50 kilometres west of Havana), where a Special Development Zone is being created, and golf real estate projects. The Cuban government apparently plans to locate the golf resorts in special development zone.
In the nineties following the downfall of the Soviet regime and forced to face the economic crisis the Cuban regime created free trade zones for the assembly and packaging of light industry with foreign investments. However the experiment did not give the expected result and were gradually eliminated.
“This project can contribute to the promotion of exports and must have a legal framework for the efficient workings of the undertakings”, said Yanet Vázquez Valdés and Belsis Llorente, Cuban foreing trade experts also attending the seminar.
The first special development zone under construction in the port of Mariel covering an area of 400 square kilometres is financed by Brazil.
So far Brazil has supplied 300 million dollars of the promised 600 million, for the construction of a 700 metres long dock plus a railway and highway linking Mariel with Havana.
The docks, cold storage and deposits plus the dredging of an access canal are being undertaken by the Brazilian corporation Odebrecht and a Cuban construction company.