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    The US blockade is a permanent threat to foreign investment in Cuba

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    El bloqueo de Estados Unidos es una amenaza permanente para la inversión extranjera en Cuba

    All the measures of the US blockade have an impact on the entry of foreign capital into Cuba, the director of Trade Policy with North America, Mariluz B'Hammel, stated at the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (Mincex).

    "You will never know how many companies that wanted to invest in Cuba stopped doing so due to the economic blockade of the United States, which until today costs the country billions of dollars," she said.

    To develop a business on the island investors have to face challenges such as difficulties in importing supplies and the impossibility of using the dollar in international markets, with the additional costs involved in currency exchanges, she explained.

    "We have had the opportunity to exchange with businessmen from other countries, including the United States, and many of them are surprised when they are closely touched by some of the measures of the blockade, with its extraterritorial scope," the Mincex official held.

    In those cases, “one of the most vivid experiences for them is when they go to carry out a bank transaction and the financial entity where they have their accounts, and with which they have always worked, tells them that it is not possible to carry out the operation for Cuba.

    "This is the result of the intimidating effect of Washington's policy towards Cuba, in particular the sanctions and fines that the US Treasury Department has imposed on so many banks and companies in the world for years."

    B'Hammel also mentioned the obstacles posed by the ban on importing products into Cuba with more than 10% components of US origin.

    "In today's globalized world, where any production has elements of different origin, whether in raw materials, inputs or components... it is almost impossible to comply with that requirement, which restricts the market area to which Cuba has access, both for imports as well as for exports," she specified.

    Mariluz-B-Hammel-Mincex highlighted the effect of the sanctions and fines that the US government has imposed on so many banks and companies in the world for years. Photo: Latin Press.

    "For purchases, this is a permanent obstacle, because to export to Cuba a product with more than an approved percentage, you must have a license from an agency of the United States Government, and the will is that this does not happen."

    The full application of the Helms-Burton Law, a rule that emerged in 1996, just after the approval of the Cuban Foreign Investment Law, and whose purpose is to hinder the entry of foreign capital into the Island is added to this.

    B'Hammel referred to Title III of the Helms-Burton Act that was in moratorium until 2019. It also opens the possibility of establishing lawsuits against those who "traffic" with properties nationalized by Cuba.

    It is "a very misleading term and far from any criterion of legality", which also has a dissuasive effect, she commented.

    Despite everything, she pointed out that Cuba has not sat idly by and now more than ever is committed to attract greater flows of foreign investment, with various initiatives and the search for solutions to the internal difficulties that are hampering the process.

    The portfolio of business opportunities in the country is a reflection of the growth of the sector, since each year the options increase.

    The current portfolio has 678 projects in the priority branches of the economy, 175 more than in 2020, and with more than 12 billion dollars for investment.

    The Mincex official assumed that in this edition the proposals with smaller amounts stand out, with the intention of opening the space to a greater number of potential investors, including Cubans residing abroad.

    Intensive work is being done so that the projects are generated from the local level, which also has expression in the current business folder, she added.

    Another aspect that denotes the will to advance in this area is the creation of the single window for foreign investment, a gateway for those who wish to bet on the country and where they receive information, advice and support in the process.

    Likewise, the Mariel Special Development Zone, a strategic enclave, close to ports in several countries and with infrastructure conditions for the settlement of industries, which despite the discredit campaigns has grown in recent years.

    As reported to the Cuban Parliament in December by the Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, there are currently 302 businesses with foreign capital in the nation, of which 104 are joint ventures, 54 entities with completely foreign funds and 144 international-economy association contracts, fundamentally in tourism, energy and the food industry.

    Despite the covid-19 pandemic and the tightening of the United States blockade, 47 new businesses were approved in the last two years, proof that the business community trusts Cuba, the minister detailed.