Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Italian official leads business delegation to Cuba
Nov 03, 2009 (BBC Monitoring via COMTEX) —

[Report by Micaela Cappellini: "First Contracts for Italy in Cuba While
Awaiting U-Turn"]

Havana – "The Cuban wall will fall soon." Twenty years after the iron
curtain was pulled down, this was the forecast that Adolfo Urso – the
deputy minister for economic development, who is also in charge of
foreign trade – made as soon as he landed in La Havana. The goal of this
journey is to conduct an exploratory mission alongside a group of
Italian firms and the managers of SIMEST [Italian Company for Firms
Abroad] and ICE [Italian Foreign Trade Institute]. "The signs are
clear," Urso said, "from President Barack Obama's overtures to the
economic and financial crisis that is crushing Cuba. In the next few
months, a change will have to take place in the country – one that will
be much quicker than the one we have observed over the last three years
– and we wish to be here in good time." In other words, for once, Italy
intends to move in advance and in a systematic manner in what the deputy
minister describes as a "tiny market, a niche country, but one in which
we are still the third investor, and in which we account for around 20
per cent [of investments]: in Europe we are only second to Spain."

The occasion for this mission is represented by the 27th Havana
International Fair, where yesterday the deputy minister inaugurated the
Italian Pavilion, which was set up by the ICE (Foreign Trade Institute),
and which includes around 20 firms from our country. Still yesterday,
Urso signed a joint declaration for the setting up of a joint
Italo-Cuban workgroup with Orlando Hernandez Guillen, the Cuban first
deputy minister for foreign trade and investment. In the upcoming days,
he [Urso] will meet with representatives from the main economic
ministries of the country led by Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, with the
aim of promoting cooperation between the two countries.

At the International Fair, two Italian firms will sign a number of
contracts. GPS Yachts will sign a contract with Cuba's Marlin for the
opening of a new charter base in the port of Trinidad, while Furia Caffe
will sign a contract with ITH [expansion untraced] for the sale of
coffee machines to hotels. According to Urso, aside from the tourism
sector, there is potential in the Cuban market for Italian firms in the
agriculture and foodstuff sectors, especially as regards the supply of
machinery to a country that, in this respect, is definitely backward.
For the time being, however, Cuba is still definitely a second-tier
partner: in 2008, overall trade with Cuba was worth only 344.6 million
[currency not specified], and in the first six months of the year,
Italian exports dropped by 28 per cent, while imports dropped by 64 per

Adolfo Urso will then travel to Brazil and Chile to take part in a joint
[Italian employers club] Confindustria-government mission. As regards
the future, he intends to confirm his policy of leading firms into
countries where it is difficult for businesses to operate on their own:
Belarus, Mongolia, Panama, and Colombia are currently being considered.

Source: Il Sole 24 Ore, Milan, in Italian 3 Nov 09

BBC Mon EU1 EuroPol LA1 LatPol 0am
(3 November 2009)

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