This year, the Havana Trade Fair (FIHAV) will kick off on November 4, celebrating its 30th year of fostering fair trade.
The first edition, in 1982, was attended by 88 entrepreneurs from just three countries: Spain, Panama and the host nation, Cuba. At the time, many thought it would not thrive; however, it has become the largest trade fair in the Caribbean, and one of the most important in Latin America. Today, it is attended by 1,500 companies from 60 countries, and the last edition featured 2,764 foreign and 919 national exhibitors in the past edition.
Year after year this event has resulted in increased business for Cuba, which now has trade relations with 180 countries.
A significant presence of entrepreneurs is expected for this 30th edition, because the fair has become a must for many business people who are interested in Cuban and Latin American exports.
Along with setting the stage for the signing of many commercial contracts, FIHAV also provides participants with the possibility of learning about newly released products from Cuba and from other attending countries. Participants can see high-quality products displayed at the fair, many of which receive awards in a variety of categories from a highly professional jury.
Major presence from Canada
Canadian entrepreneurs have a relevant presence at the fair each year, reflecting the traditional trade links between Cuba and Canada, which go back five decades.
Speaking at the opening of Canada's pavilion during the fair's 29th edition, the Canadian ambassador, Matthew Levin, stated that although Cuba and Canada differ in climate, culture, and political and economic systems, “differences have never prevented us from having a friendly relationship and open dialogue based on mutual respect in the search for sharing, identifying and seeking mutual benefits”.
Regarding trade, Levin added that “our governments are giving priority to increasing our economies' sustainability and prosperity, and the fair is a great opportunity to bring together our respective business communities”.
According to official figures, Canada ranks third among Cuba's trading partners with trade growing by 30% in 2009. It also ranks second among investors on the island, with investments in key fields such as mining, agriculture, tourism and food production. Some of the Canadian companies attending the fair include Palmex International Inc. (www.palmex-international.com), Franke Kindred Canada and Franke Coffee Systems (www.frankekindred.com), Romexim Canada Inc., NAIT (www.nait.ca/cit) and Diesel Electric Services.