Cuban State-Owned Company Alimpex Will Import Food From Panama

Signing the contract between Panama’s Belraysa and Cuba’s Alimpex companies. (Prensa Latina)

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Havana, 31 March 31, 2023 — Flours, vegetables, yeasts, meats and dairy products from Panama will be brought to Cuba by the Import and Export Company of the Ministry of Food Industry (Alimpex) through a contract with the Belraysa tourism group, the representative in Panama of the Cuban state group Palco.

The signing of the agreement was held during the 39th International Trade Fair held in the Central American country, where other Cuban institutions also signed agreements for the marketing of their products abroad, reported the official news agency Prensa Latina.

The agreement was signed by Jorge Guerra, general manager of Belraysa, and Doralis Velázquez, business director of the state company. According to the agency’s report, both managers “praised” the scope of the new exchange, which occurs in the midst of a shortage of food and supplies for daily use on the Island.

The agreement includes the import of key raw materials for state industries, cooperatives and small private companies. Velázquez assured that a “stable supply of goods” will be facilitated, along with a reduction in supply cycles.

Alimpex is one of the state companies that acts as an intermediary with SMEs to import raw materials and export their productions. Unable to trade directly with foreign customers or suppliers, private businesses are obliged to use official channels to get hold of raw materials or place their goods on the international market.

Alimpex’s agreement with Belraysa expands the food inventory that the state company will have at its disposal to sell to its national customers, but it maintains the official monopoly on international trade, a condition that has been harshly criticized by Cuban entrepreneurs who want to trade without state intermediaries.

Belraysa is a travel agency based in Panama that offers packages to several destinations in Latin America, including the Island as a medical tourism destination. It also has a business arm as an organizer of international congresses and fairs. On its website it describes itself as “the host of the largest events in Cuba,” and it officially represents the Palco Business Group.

While the Cuban authorities assure that the country advances in food security, the data tell a different story, since in reality it is the second country in Latin America and the Caribbean that is most deficient and dependent per capita on imports of agricultural products, only surpassed by Panama, which makes it vulnerable to the sway of the international market and the supply capacity of its trading partners.

In an effort to mitigate the supply crisis, the Cuban government has signed several agreements with friendly countries for the supply of food. Thus, last January, the National Center for Animal Health of Cuba authorized the import of meat and dairy products from Colombia, a permit that adds to the marketing of poultry meat, although its supply depends mostly on the United States, whose sales to the Island in 2022 reached 295 million dollars.

At the fair, which brought together delegations from 30 countries, the Pharmaceutical Laboratories Company (Labiofam) also signed a letter of intent with Corpomesdcal S. A. to register and market its  homeopathic product Vidatox 30 CH, which is used in complementary therapies in the treatment of cancer. (Homeopathy is not recognized as a medical specialty in many countries.) Similarly, the Center for the Promotion of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (ProCuba) has initiated efforts to renew a memorandum with its Panamanian counterpart, the agency said.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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