10/11/13 - Cuba Standard.com - Brazilian companies negotiating sugar investments
CUBA STANDARD - Executives of 17 Brazilian sugar and derivatives companies
gathered in Havana Thursday and Friday with executives of state sugar
holding Azcuba to negotiate participation in a $200 million pilot project
anchored by a sugar mill in Cienfuegos province, official news service
Prensa Latina reported.
The 5 de Septiembre sugar mill near the southern port city of Cienfuegos
has become a testing ground for the modernization of Cuba's ailing sugar
industry. Companhia de Obras e Infraestrutura (COI), a subsidiary of
Brazil's Grupo Odebrecht, became the first major foreign company to
engage in Cuba's sugar industry when it signed a 13-year joint production
agreement in November 2012 with Azcuba to operate the mill.
The event at the Hotel Nacional that ends today aims at attracting
Brazilian technology and know-how to improve operations at and around 5 de
Septiembre, and boost production of the sugar mill from 25,000 metric tons
to 140,000 metric tons.
The overall investment necessary to achieve this goal is $200 million,
executives of Brazilian sugar and ethanol producer Grupo Toledo said,
according to the official report.
"Cuba wants to revitalize the sugar sector, and in recent years we have
been observing that the country is going through transformations that can
bring about great opportunities," said Flavio Castelar, executive director
of ethanol trade association APLA, in announcing the event.
A key part of the 5 de Septiembre project is apparently ethanol production.
Brazil is the ethanol world leader, and Odebrecht's bioenergy division is
one of Brazil's largest ethanol producers. Cuba has abstained from boosting
ethanol production because Fidel Castro has been arguing that it diminishes
food security for the most vulnerable population. Last year, a Brazilian
foreign ministry spokesman told reporters that Cuba is about to engage in
ethanol production, as "Fidel's resistance in this field is being
Brazilian organizations at the negotiations represent the entire sugarcane
production chain, including APLA, sugar producer Grupo Toledo, and COI.
The event has been promoted by Brazil Sugarcane Bioenergy Solutions, a
joint venture between APLA and Brazilian export promotion agency Apex.
An international conference about sugar derivatives in Havana will begin
on Monday, Oct. 14.
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