This Thursday Cuba offered itself as a safe destination for foreign investment and invited the business leaders of America, meeting in Panama, to visit the island “to make progress toward establishing mutually beneficial businesses.”
Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment also said, in statements to reporters, that “the policy of the [US] blockade goes against not only Cuba and the Cuban people, but also the will of businesspeople in the United States.”
In a speech to businesspeople participating in the CEO Summit of the Americas, Malmierca spoke of “great expectations” produced by last December’s announcement, the beginning of a process of normalization of relations between Washington and Havana.
“The measures adopted [by the US] on Cuba in January, which modify certain aspects of the embargo, although limited, are a step in the right direction. But it must not be forgotten that (…) the blockade remains in force,” he said.
He stressed that “in recent months” Cuba has “received important delegations of [US] businesspeople and politicians, who have confirmed their interest in developing businesses with Cuban entities.”
“We are witnessing a new phase of the inclusion of Cuba on the international economic stage”
In Cuba “We do not limit nor discriminate against US companies, so that opportunities” for business and investment offered by the Island in sectors such as food, renewable energy, oil exploration, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology “are also open (to the USA),” he added.
“Today we can say that we are witnessing a new phase of the inclusion of Cuba on the international economic stage, which introduces opportunities for trade and investment,” Malmierca told the business leaders
The Cuban minister said that in this “new phase” the government of Raul Castro extended its “vision of the role of foreign investment, recognizing it as an active and essential element for the growth of certain sectors and economic activities.”
The Cuban government estimates that it needs about “2,500 billion annually in foreign investment to stimulate a growth that will lead to developing prosperity and sustainability” of the “socialist” project, he said.
Malmierca pointed out that Cuba, in addition to the “guarantees and incentives” established in a new law, “makes available” to foreign capital attractions such as scientific potential, the availability of a skilled workforce with expertise in high technology, and a privileged geographic location, among other assets.
The government needs “about 2.5 billion annually in investment to stimulate growth to sustain the socialist project”
“The Cuban market, although it is not a large economy, has an important weight in the Caribbean (…), which together with other aspects (…) translates into new opportunities to expand trade with Cuba and its role in intraregional trade,” he said.
He added that Cuba has outlined a program of long-term development that leads the country’s efforts for the building of a socialist society to bring further benefits to all Cubans.
“We are convinced that the countries of the region will accompany Cuba in these efforts,” he said.
The Second CEO Summit of the Americas is one of four official forums previous to the Seventh Summit of the Americas at which, on Friday and Saturday, the 35 countries of the continent will meet for the first time.
One of the most anticipated moments of the continental meeting is the greeting between the American president Barack Obama and the Cuban president Raul Castro.
The business event has generated a document with recommendations that will be presented to heads of state and government attendees of the hemispheric summit.