Cuba Has Approved 62 Businesses for the Mariel Special Development Zone

Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel seated second from left) and former president Raul Castro (seated third from left) with other government leaders. (@PresidenciaCuba)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, 11 July 2022 — Cuban state media reported on Sunday that the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM), the government’s flagship project intended to attract foreign capital, currently has 62 approved businesses with more than three billion dollars in committed investments, a bit more than it was expected to attract annually.

The figures were released during a meeting yesterday to review the project. Attendees included current Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel, former president Raul Castro and senior government officials.

ZEDM’s director general, Ana Teresa Igarza, indicated that, of those sixty-two businesses, fifty-six have already set up shop. The Cuban News Agency also reported that one billion dollars have already been invested. Madrid-based Cuban economist Elias Amor states, however, that only thirty-six companies are actually in operation.

Igarza reports that this strategic economic enclave, located twenty-eight miles west of Havana, hosts twenty-one countries and eleven multi-nationals, and employs more than 15,000 workers.

Among those corporations are Richmeat, a Mexican cured meat company; Profood Service, a Spanish food and beverage supplier to the hospitality sector; Cuba’s Mariel Logistic Services; and BrasCuba Cigarillos, a joint venture between Cuba and Brazil. Companies from the Netherlands, Belgium, Vietnam and Italy are also present.

Igarza states that the core industries represented at ZEDM are logistical services, biotechnology biopharmaceuticals and advanced manufacturing.

To develop economically, Cuba needs to attract $2.5 billion annually in direct foreign investment, with the focus mainly on key sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture and food production, tourism, mining, biotechnology, petroleum and renewable energy.

Announced in 2013, ZEDM is the first project of its kind on the island. It was conceived as a business center and mercantile port where the government hopes to locate a large number of such companies.

Engineering Services and Integral Management for Mariel Projects, under the direction of Osvaldo Bravo, has secured fifty investments deals with another twenty-one in the works.

The project now has roads and a rail line for transporting goods. The State newspaper Granma reports that the government has also invested in utilities and services such as electricity, water, sewage, drainage, liguified gas, telecommunications and broadband internet to the tune of 4.173 billion pesos.

Systems and policies adopted in the zone are intended to encourage sustainable economic development through foreign investment, technological innovation and industrial concentration. The hope is that these will increase exports and reduce the need for imports.


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