14ymedio, Havana, 10 November 2022 — Few revelations were made this Wednesday night on Cuban State TV’s Roundtable program dedicated to the Havana International Fair, which opens next Monday at Expocuba.
The appearance on the program of the Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, raised the expectation that some of the most interesting issues surrounding this fair would be reported, such as who the American exhibitors will be. His presence, at the end, seemed to justify itself more by taking seriously the Cuban government’s promise to pay its debts to its investors.
“They [the investors] have been informed that late payments or other problems in fulfilling the commitments made will be resolved gradually,” Malmierca seriously assured after saying that 60 countries and entrepreneurs from different countries will be present, which, in his opinion, is a guarantee of the confidence “that the international community has in doing business in the Cuban market despite the blockade.”
Among the most impressive novelties was the announcement of the presentation, next Wednesday, of a new national beer with a joint venture (no details were given), and the expansion of the Mexican meat producer, Richmeat, already present in the Special Development Zone of Mariel, where, in addition, a new joint venture with the British multinational Unilever will be inaugurated, although little about the joint venture was revealed.
Malmierca gave some figures, including that there are about 400 Cuban companies that will be present at the fair, which will occupy 53,820 square feet. The director didn’t say that the price ranged from 335 to 1,345 pesos per square foot, depending on the location and the benefits, moderate prices compared to other fairs of its kind.
Antonio Carricarte Corona, president of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, delved into the national data and explained that the companies of the Island participate in two modalities, that of “presence on the stand,” with 227 companies of which five are SMEs [small and medium-size businesses] and three are non-agricultural cooperatives; and that of “professional visitor,” with 177 companies, including 46 SMEs.
“In the case of micro and small companies, they are the ones with the greatest potential for export within their economic activity,” the minister said, while Carricarte said that “for Cuban companies it’s an excellent opportunity, because the fair gives them visibility and the possibility of establishing links with other entities.”
The foreign countries most represented in the commercial exchange are China, Russia, Spain, France, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela, but there are also two new ones, the United Arab Emirates and Laos. “There are more than 25 official delegations chaired by ministers, deputy ministers and even a vice president and secretaries of state,” Malmierca boasted.
He was more restrained in the case that attracts the most interest, that of U.S. companies, announced weeks earlier. “Not a large number, but yes, there are already nine confirmed that will participate as exhibitors, and some others that will participate in the fair through different delegations,” he said.
In parallel, as in every year, the fifth investment forum will be held, where the new portfolio of business opportunities with foreign capital will be presented.
The president of the Chamber of Commerce advanced some more projects, including a renewable energy project “which is based on the circular economy with the use of biomethane gas for transport exploitation,” and a platform to export organic coffee using blockchain technology.
Eduardo Correa González, president of the Palco group, was also on the Roundtable program to give some data on the logistics of the fair, in which they have “relied on the support of both the state and the SMEs, which also helped to make the facilities operational.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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