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KC Delegation in Cuba

by Morgan Bell | Nov 01, 2016

KC SmartPort and the Greater KC Foreign Trade Zone led a delegation of 21 business leaders to Cuba in October. The group met with the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Foreign Investment and Trade, and toured the new container terminal at the Port of Mariel.

The Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Cuba is the only chamber in Cuba and is responsible for the business community. The Chamber’s membership represents close to 99 percent of all active companies in Cuba. The Chamber also has international agreements with a number of U.S. based Chambers.  

The Cuban government is updating its economic model and has established 313 guiding principles to ease the transition. One principle is to make sure the government officials are not involved in the operation of state owned enterprises and the establishment of a foreign investment strategy. The goal for the FDI strategy is to attract $2 billion a year into the Cuban economy focused on 326 projects in the energy, tourism, mining, transportation and other sectors. In the energy sector alone, the plan calls for increasing renewable energy from 4 percent to more than 25 percent of the country's energy needs. The Port of Mariel was created two years ago and is the star project for foreign investment in Cuba. The port is designated a special zone in Cuba and has specific FDI projects and a favorable investment environment for foreign investors. 

The Cuban economy depends greatly on imports. For example, the country used to produce glass bottles but now imports all that are needed. Although Cuba has the components to produce glass, the technology is very intensive from an electrical point of view and has not been updated. The Ministry of Industry stressed the need to be able to replace imports, and suggested companies consider Cuba's needs before exploring investment opportunities.

The workforce in Cuba has not been properly trained. Cubans have been left behind in terms of training and skills, but many officials emphasized the desire and ability to correct this. 

An annual International job fair held in Havana showcases companies from around the world. Cuban officials urged U.S. companies to get involved. 


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  1. Jose Somoza | Nov 02, 2016

    The Cuba trip seemed worthwhile.  Any input from the Cuban government and the Chamber of Commerce on reasons for the U.S. not lifting the trade embargo? Is the human rights and retribution of lost assets a strong detriment like it is for Cuban Americans living abroad?  Did you find Cuba to be worse in some ways than a third world India or Peru for example?

    Thanks Chris.

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