Cuba opens trade fair with over 3,000 participants from 70 countries

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-31 06:26:09|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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HAVANA, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- The 35th Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV 2017) on Monday opened up with the presence of 3,400 businesses and exhibitors from 70 countries in Havana's quest to attract foreign investment and diversify its economy which currently faces "financial limitations."

"Cuba faces short-term financial limitations but the high participation of businessmen, official delegations and exhibitors in this fair once more shows the interest of the international community to do business with our country," said Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, at the event's inauguration.

Malmierca said Cuba has continued paying its international debts but lately the country hasn't been able to do so in time due to "financial constraints."

"Cuba ratifies its will to pay its international partners and redouble its efforts to continue advancing in its economic model," he said.

He also referred to the recent setback in relations with the U.S. and said the economic decisions announced by President Donald Trump in June only benefit a minority.

"The decisions of the president of the United States ignore the interests of large sectors of that nation, particularly the business community," he said.

Trump announced in a speech in Miami in June that he would roll back his predecessor's historic opening-up, including banning business ties with Cuba's state institutions linked with the military, particularly in the tourism sector.

Malmierca highlighted that since last year's fair, an important number of foreign investment projects have been approved in renewable energies, tourism, construction, oil exploration and food industry.

"During this year, we have approved foreign investment projects for around 2 billion U.S. dollars and new endeavors should be approved before the year ends. This is a sign that Cuba continues to be an attractive business destination," he added.

The Cuban official said FIHAV is consolidated as one of the most important trade fairs and business exchanges events in Latin America and in this edition the countries most represented are the country's top commercial partners.

"We have a great representation from Venezuela, Russia, China and Spain, the latter the most represented with five pavilions. Those are our top trading partners and each year their presence grows in this event," he added.

The fair will host the second edition of the Cuban business opportunity forum, an event which will be inaugurated by Malmierca on Tuesday and aims to provide businessmen with information about foreign investment in the country and networking with local partners.

At the event, Cuba showcases its goods and services in a pavilion that brings together more than 300 companies and entities from all economic sectors, including the Mariel Special Development Zone, the government's flagship project to attract foreign capital.

A new law on foreign investment was approved in 2014 by Cuba's parliament which provides a favorable economic and investment environment for companies to set up joint ventures in the country.

The week-long event will feature business meetings, presentations and roundtables where companies from all over the world will seek to make deals with Cuban firms and other nations.

China, which in 2016 became Cuba's top trading partner, will have a showcase presentation of its pavilion on Tuesday, an event at which top Cuban government officials are expected.

The Cuba-China joint business committee will hold its annual meeting on Thursday in the framework of the trade fair.