10/25/13 - GlobalPost - Cuba sets up shop for investors in new dutyfree port zone
Cuba is setting up shop for foreign investors interested in getting in on
its upgraded port in Mariel and a surrounding duty-free zone.
Oscar Perez, head of the government's office of business evaluations, said
a new office will open November 1 to handle foreign investment in the
port's so-called Special Development Zone.
With financing from Brazil, Cuba is in the process of expanding port
facilities at Mariel to handle larger container ships moving to and from a
widened Panama Canal.
President Raul Castro and Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff are to
inaugurate the first phase of the expansion in January.
The new port will include an industrial park and duty-free zone that Cuban
officials hope will be a boon to trade and spur domestic production.
Mariel, Cuba's largest port, is located 40 kilometers (24 miles) west of
Havana on Cuba's northern coast.
It was the scene of a massive exodus of Cubans in 1980 when 125,000 people
left the island for the United States on small boats.
Some analysts said foreign investors may be wary of sinking funds into the
project at a time when Cuba is planning on a major overhaul of its dual
"The government's efforts to attract a new wave of investments with the
launching of the new Mariel duty-free zone is going to be noticeably
impacted, said Emilio Morales, president of the Miami-based Havana
"The uncertainty over the unification of two currencies is an element
that, in the short run, will have a retarding effect on foreign
investment," he said.
Copyright AFP, 2013.
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