Reflecting the solid economic and commercial ties between Cuba and Canada, more than 50 Canadian companies sent representatives to the 2012 Havana International Trade Fair, the island's largest general trade show.
At the 2012 fair, the 30th of its kind, the Canadian pavilion was chock-full of products. Its 550 square meters of exhibition space held 31 stands, and 31 of the 50 companies represented were new to the fair.
At the opening, participants included the president of the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), Marc Whittingham; Canadian Ambassador Matthew Levin; and Cuban Vice Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Ileana Núñez. They all made remarks advocating a further expansion of ties between the two countries.
The Canadian pavilion was one of the most popular at the fair. Visitors chatted and met with representatives of well-known companies like Air Transat, Taina Group, Bay & Sons Export Company, Denson Automatic Inc., Canada Beef, GTS Propower, and many more. Quite a few of these companies already have direct relations or representatives in Cuba, supplying a diverse array of products and services covering a wide range of industries and sectors.
Notable increase of bilateral trade
In 2011, trade between the two nations totaled more than $1.1 billion, representing an increase of 23.3 percent compared to the previous year, and making Canada Cuba's fourth largest trading partner.
More recently, in the first half of 2012, a similar increase was seen: 24 percent, which kept Canada in fourth place, following Venezuela, China and Spain. These strong trade ties are reflected in the fact that six percent of international trade is carried out with Canada.
In 2011, more than one million Canadian tourists visited the Cuban archipelago, that is, 37 percent of all tourists who came that year. Cuba is the No. 4 tourist destination for Canadians, and Canada is the top source of international tourists. That market still has the potential to continue growing.
Meanwhile, Canada is one of the countries with the most foreign investors in Cuba: 17, which are distributed in strategic industries like mining, oil exploration and electric power generation.
In terms of international cooperation, Canada is also one of Cuba's main partners. Various organizations and agencies, especially the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), have provided 17 years of unconditional support and accompaniment to Cuba, for a total of more than $88 million.
This cooperation is expressed in top priority sectors like food security, economic modernization and sustainable development, and it has had a positive impact on agriculture, basic industry, public health, foreign trade and other sectors.
Many business executives and representatives agreed that the 2012 Havana International Trade Fair was a favourable setting for both sides to demonstrate their desire for stronger ties in other fields of interest with enormous potential, such as renewable energy, mining, medicine and biotechnology.
At the 2012 fair, which is considered to have been the largest in the last 10 years, more than 3,500 business representatives from 67 nations —10 more than last year— participated, displaying products and services in more than 15,000 square meters of exhibition space.