Foreign capital settles in Mariel

Foreign investments are dominating in the Mariel Special Development Zone, though its directors still describe the advances as discreet.

Three years after the first step, there are 19 approved investment projects in the Mariel Special Development Zone, 11 of which involve 100 per cent foreign capital.

Foto: Jorge Luis Baños_IPS

About 20 projects have received the green light in the Mariel Special Development Zone, three years after being created as a key destination for foreign investments in Cuba. Though the pace of authorisations is not considered good, the willingness to accept 100 per cent foreign capital industries stands out compared to previous common practice in the country.

In a presentation in the recent Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV 2016), the directors of the Zone announced that 19 projects have been approved, seven of which are already operating. The rest is in an advanced stage of implementation.


Out of the total authorised investments in this locality, located 45 kilometres to the west of Havana, 11 are completely run by some foreign company: three from Mexico, two from France, two from Belarus, one from Spain, one from Brazil, one from Vietnam and another from South Korea. There are four joint ventures and another four are exclusively national.


These economic activities include projects involved in logistical services, the production of biopharmaceuticals and medical devices, construction technologies and materials, financial and banking services and the production of domestic consumption goods.

The Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV 2016) was a favourable occasion to promote the ZED through the presentation of the companies that have undertaken investments in this enclave.

The Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV 2016) was a favourable occasion to promote the ZED through the presentation of the companies that have undertaken investments in this enclave.

Foto: Jorge Luis Baños_IPS


The newspaper Trabajadores commented that the perception that “the march of the ZED’s activities is slow, despite the will expressed by the Cuban State of conceiving foreign investment not as a complement but rather as a fundamental and revitalising link of the country’s economy.”


According to the business assessment director, Oscar Pérez-Oliva, in its first stage Mariel concentrated in creating the conditions to subsequently receive industrial investments. “A special zone is a long-term project that requires the development of important infrastructure works,” he said to Trabajadores.


The general director of the Zone Office, Ana Teresa Igarza, on the other hand opted for describing the advances as discreet. She is confident that the created conditions – container terminal, roads, railroad lines, warehouses and communications, among others – will attract new investors.


Right now, another 22 proposals are at an advanced stage of assessment, the ZED directors announced to the numerous foreign exhibitors in FIHAV 2016.


The Havana International Trade Fair served as the moment to place in Mariel the first stones of the new industrial installations. The joint venture between the Cuban Suchel and the Netherland’s Unilever will build an industry of personal hygiene and home cleaning products, while the Brascuba Cigarette company, which for more than two decades has joined the Brazilian Souza Cruz and the local Tabacuba, has decided to expand its productions with another factory, with the aim of entering new foreign markets.


The South Korean ArtCo 33, which plans to produce disposable syringes, a product which Cuba currently imports from China, is another of this year’s incorporation. With the production of 60 million units a year, this industry hopes to cover 60 per cent of the national demand.


One of the most important accepted Cuban projects is a factory of the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Centre (CIGB), for the development, production and marketing of biotechnological products.


Pérez-Oliva commented to the press that when the investments approved until now start operations they will generate close to 2,900 new direct jobs, plus other posts linked to design, consultancy, construction and engineering services. (2016)


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