FIHAV2016, New Business Opportunities for Cuba
BY MERCY RAMOS, PHOTOS: JOSÉ MERIÑO
The 34th Edition of the Havana International Fair to be held from October 31st to November 4th is a key event for the development of Cuban trade. This year a record number of participants is expected with over 4,000 exhibitors from about 60 countries, which will give the Island’s exports high visibility. In an exclusive interview with CubaPlus magazine the president of Cuba’s Chamber of Commerce Orlando Hernández Guillén said that the objectives of the fair will be the promotion of Cuban exports, tightening relations with the country’s main trading partners and, obviously, the promotion of Cuba as a destination for foreign investment. “For the first time, there will be a forum dedicated to investment.
In the last editions of the fair, the updated portfolio of opportunities was released —as it will again at this edition— which shows that it is an important venue for promoting investments,” said Hernández Guillén. “Meetings regarding sectors of the economy open to investments will also be organized,” he added.
In reference to Canada, Hernández highlighted its importance because in addition to having rented a Pavilion there will be a large number of Canadian companies attending, many of which have participated in the past and many for the first time. In response to a question about the recent visit of Quebec’s Premier Philippe Couillard, who came to Cuba with a group of businessmen from the province, Hernández stated that the meeting was highly professional and of great satisfaction to the interests of both parties. He pointed out that Quebec has always had a special relationship with Cuba and this visit was very positive with regards to trade and the investment. He explained that the premier was in the country as part of a trade delegation involving Quebec companies from the food, pharmaceutical, tourism and financial sectors, who became interested in the possibilities the market offers.
“Trade between Cuba and Canada has been steady for a long time. Canada is among Cuba’s 10 major trading partners and our economies complement each other. Last year Canada was Cuba’s fourth largest trading partner,” said Hernández Guillén. “In terms of investment,” he added, “Canada plays a major role for Cuba in the areas of energy, nickel, petroleum, electric power and tourism among others.” As far as expectations on the attendance of US companies at this coming FIHAV edition, he said: “A greater involvement over last year is expected.”
“US businesses are very interested in business and investment opportunities that Cuba offers. However the promotion among American entrepreneurs is at a standstill because of the trade embargo imposed on the Island over five decades ago. “The blockade is there, though there is a general feeling among the business community and the people of the United States that sooner or later it must end – but the present reality is that it is still there,” he stressed.