Europe optimistically sets its sights on Cuba

A French credit insurance firm is waiting for Cuba’s economy to grow more in the near future with the end of the U.S. blockade.

The European expert forecasts an annual growth of the Cuban economy of between five and six per cent in the next five years.

Foto: IPS-Cuba archive

In the next years the Cuban economy’s growth could exceed the government’s forecasts for 2015. A French credit insurance firm, the Euler Hermes society, estimates that from 2016 to 2020 Cuba’s gross domestic product (GDP) could increase between five and six per cent because of a normalisation of relations with the United States. Other data indicate that a growth of this magnitude could already be perceived starting this year.

In line with the change of position of Washington toward Havana and the growing signs and statements to put an end to the blockade, the rapprochement to Cuba by European governments and business delegations has increased, with the explicit goal of taking advantage of the opportunities being opened to strengthen commercial and financial relations. The tendency encourages the optimistic forecasts among observers from that continent.

 

The author of the Euler Hermes study, Daniela Ordoñez, is of the opinion that “parallel to the diplomatic rapprochement (with the United States), the Cuban State is sending very favourable signs to the markets.” Consequently, this economist is previewing a boom in foreign investments that could go from 15 to 20 per cent in the near future.

 

“The island is in need of modernising its infrastructures and its production capacities,” commented Ordoñez in the study, presented by the French daily Le Monde. “The State will open the economy to make this possible,” she added.

 

In addition to approving in March 2014 a new Law on Foreign Investment – even before the dialogue with Barack Obama’s cabinet was made public -, the Cuban government has expressed its aim of increasing the participation of foreign businesspeople in the national economy. This data gains value for entrepreneurs and analysts.

The candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. President with the greatest possibilities again backed Obama’s policy against the blockade.

The candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. President with the greatest possibilities again backed Obama’s policy against the blockade.

 

During the most recent parliamentary session, the Cuban government announced a 4.7 per cent GDP growth in the first semester and expects an increase of around four per cent at the close of the year. But the previous years’ tendency indicates that the economy usually experiences a moderate acceleration in the second half of the year. If this were to be repeated in the final months of the current year the GDP would amount to more than five per cent, definitively changing the meagre growth of the last five years, and would prove right in advance what the Euler Hermes expert said.

 

The curiosity or interest of a French credit insurance firm confirms that the European business sphere is setting its sights on Cuba, after having distanced itself from the largest of the Caribbean islands to avoid problems with the U.S. authorities.

 

In its editorial, Le Monde estimates that the end to the sanctions of the U.S. economic blockade on Cuba “already seems inevitable” after the reopening of embassies on July 20 and the resumption of diplomatic relations. In its opinion, “it is probably a question of months.”

 

Last Friday July 31, Hilary Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. President, added another page to the file against the blockade. While in Miami she said that the embargo has to come to an end once and for all and immediately added that it should be replaced with a more intelligent strategy. Though for Clinton this is not a new position, it was surprising that she made the statement in the “bastion of the most visceral anti-Castro exile,” as it was called by the Spanish newspaper El País.

 

In direct frequency with the attacks on the blockade, the visits, studies and negotiations of European companies in Cuba are increasing. (2015)

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