HAVANA, CUBA - Today, Engage Cuba renewed its call on Congress to lift the U.S. embargo against Cuba to allow American companies to compete for Cuba's growing list of foreign direct investment opportunities aimed at modernizing the island nation. The 2016-17 FDI portfolio, which was released this week at the annual Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV), details 396 economic development projects, 69 more projects than last year. A summarized list of key investment opportunities in a range of industries, including agriculture, energy, biotech, health care and transportation, is available below.
Cuba releases a yearly portfolio of investment opportunities at the annual trade fair. This years Havana International Trade Fair was attended by representatives from 25 U.S. companies, signaling the U.S. business community's growing interest in doing business in Cuba.
"Cuba has recognized that foreign investment is a critical tool of development as the island nation seeks to strengthen nearly every sector its economy. Cuba is open for business, and it's time that Congress gets out of the way of American companies interested in helping Cuba move into the 21st century," said President of Engage Cuba, James Williams, at the 2016 Havana International Trade Fair.
"The new 2016 portfolio highlights the tangible and potentially lucrative opportunities for U.S. companies to play a leading role in modernizing Cuba. But despite recent regulatory changes, U.S. companies still face unnecessary hurdles and outdated restrictions related to Cuba. Until Congress fully lifts the embargo, American companies will be stuck on the sidelines as foreign competitors move in on Cuba's growing markets," Williams added.
Through executive order, the Obama Administration has issued six rounds of regulatory changes to Cuba sanctions, authorizing U.S. companies in certain sectors to do business in Cuba. However, until Congress permanently eases sanctions by passing legislation, doing business in Cuba remains challenging due to regulatory uncertainty, fear of penalties, and a lack of financing options due to hesitation from financial institutions.
As American companies face barriers to doing business in Cuba, foreign competitors are moving into Cuba's growing markets. Recently, France committed to signing a contract to renovate José Martí International Airport in Havana. Additionally, Dutch-based Unilever has also signed a $35 million deal to manufacture personal and home-care products such as soap and toothpaste.
Investment Opportunities in key sectors:
*Figures below are estimated project costs stated in the portfolio.
Port of Mariel: Over $1.5 billion to develop the Port of Mariel and strengthen its goal of becoming the logistics hub of the Caribbean.
Agriculture: $740.14 million for comprehensive agro-industrial projects to increase food production; encourage sustainable development; and increase efficiency, quality and competitiveness in the different forms of production management. Cuba is seeking FDI for 76 projects, 36 more projects than last year.
Industrial: $252.4 million to promote projects to modernize and create new capacities (e.g. to produce bottles and packaging, recycle raw materials), manufacturing electronic equipment and electrical appliances, chemical products and by-products, medical equipment, textiles, clothing and accessories, hygiene products, perfumes and cosmetics. Cuba seeks to cover their national demand, replace imports and increase exports.
Renewable Energy: Cuba is seeking over $290 million in renewable energy projects with the goal to create, enlarge and modernize production capacities and to promote projects to generate energy from renewable sources.
Oil & Gas: Cuba is seeking almost $2 billion for 6 projects to increase oil and gas production.
Transportation: $119.3 million to modernize Cuba's transportation infrastructure. Specifically, Cuba plans to expand its port, roadway, and rail capacity and improve its system for repairs and technological updates of vessels and trains. This includes preparing port facilities to receive cruise ships and bringing its commercial aviation services up to international standards.
Biotechnology and Drug Industry: $27 million to promote projects in Cuba with strategic partners to improve the manufacturing of finished products and active drug ingredients for generic medicines. Cuba is looking for partners to complement domestic projects by increasing joint R&D projects, as well as the creating or extending their own production capabilities.
Health care: $50 million to develop exports of Cuban medical and health services.
Construction: $110 million to access new technologies to improve efficiency in construction, increase production of materials AND spare parts, and to recover and complete general repairs for plants. Additionally, Cuba seeks to promote the building of infrastructure and industrial maintenance jobs, primarily for the nickel, oil and cement industries as well as for the designing and building of hotels for tourism and the real estate complexes associated with golf courses.