Confidence in Cuban
• 3,000 exhibitors from 60 countries • Economic growth
for 2011 estimated at 2.9%
Yenia Silva Correa
WITH the maxim of promoting Cuba’s economic relations with the rest of the world, the 29th Havana Trade Fair opened November 1 with the participation of 1,500 companies and 3,000 business executives from 60 countries, in its traditional Expocuba venue.
As Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment noted during the Fair’s inauguration, "The broad presence of foreign business executives is a reflection of their confidence in our country and the existing potential for undertaking mutually advantageous joint ventures."
Malmierca announced that the Cuban economy grew by 1.9% in the first half of 2011 and its end of year growth is estimated to reach 2.9%.
Cuba’s principal trading partners (Spain, Venezuela, China and Canada) had a large representation in this edition. Also significant was the participation of Latin America nations, 16 in total, among which various member countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) stood out.
A session was organized for participants in this regional bloc on the Single Regional Payment Compensation System (SUCRE), in addition to business meetings and a negotiating round.
The six-day Trade Fair served as a framework for business agreements, the signing of contracts and talks with the island’s principal partners directed at strengthening trade links and demonstrating Cuba’s commercial opportunities.
The opening ceremony of Cuba’s largest trade fair was attended by Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, vice president of the Council of Ministers; René Mesa Villafaña, minister of construction; Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz; Abraham Maciques Maciques, president of the Fair’s organizing committee; and Estrella Madrigal Valdés, president of the Chamber of Commerce.
SPAIN: MOST REPRESENTED COUNTRY
Spanish Day took place during the event’s first session. This year, this country increased its exhibition area to 2,900 square meters and dedicated its two pavilions to energy, chemistry, sport and tourism.
Grouped together by Spain’s Institute of Foreign Trade, 120 companies from that country had a presence at the Fair, exhibiting a varied range of products among which construction materials, foodstuffs, and consumer goods and services were prominent.
Antonio Luis Carricarte, Cuban deputy minister of foreign trade, noted the presence of 40 new Spanish companies, "which illustrates Spanish business executives’ confidence in and expectations of the Cuban market."
As Manuel Cacho, Spanish ambassador to Cuba, stated, his country’s strong participation in the event is a demonstration of the constant interest of Spanish enterprises in the development of the Cuban economy.
The Fair, Cacho affirmed, is an occasion for Spanish companies to seek and create new opportunities for cooperating with Cuban companies.
In 2010, trade between Spain and Cuba reached 719 million euros and the island was Spain’s fifth client in Latin America. Spain continues to be Cuba’s first client within the European Union.
Beyond the framework, of FIHAV, more than 200 branches of Spanish companies have a presence in Cuba and more than 50 joint ventures are operating on the island.
CUBA PROMOTING HEALTH SERVICES
Around 350 Cuban enterprises from all industries took part in FIHAV 2011 with an increased presence, quality and competitiveness. The Cuban exhibition area covered 5,000 square meters, with a notable input from the services sector: health, technology and medical equipment, as well as informatics and communications.
The health sector had the strongest promotion with biotechnological products, generic medicaments, monoclonal antibodies and the Labiofam range.
As part of its policy of increasing exports, the island is designing a strategy for the export of innovative products for treating health problems and promoting agreements to gradually replace imports of spare parts.