HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) -- Cuba considers foreign investment a priority for the development of key economic and social sectors. With this in mind a new Foreign Investment draft law will be submitted to approval by all 612 deputies of the National Parliament on March 29.
The bill, the most anticipated economic measure by entrepreneurs interested in doing or retaining business with Cuba, will replace the current law that has been in force since 1995 and is considered by some experts as no longer in tune with current economic needs and future prospects, aimed at reviving the local industry and gaining competitiveness in the world market.
The country needs access to financial sources, advanced technology and know-how in order to boost sectors hard hit by the economic crisis of the 1990s. With this in mind the island is looking at a more attractive law that encourages foreign investors to participate in key areas, such as agriculture, industry, tourism, biotechnology and renewable energy, with this latter one requiring some $3 billion to develop.
The draft law has been under debate by provincial deputies in recent days and foreign investment and trade minister Rodrigo Malmierca said far from meaning a setback or the sale of the country, the modifications to the law will offer important incentives.
The new law establishes more flexible customs procedures, guarantees for investors in nearly all sectors of Cuban economy and fast paperwork for contracts.
The legislation, which was announced in mid 2012, will also allow a larger agenda of projects to promote business opportunities in areas of national interest.
With the approval of a Special Development Zone in the Port of Mariel last September 2013, the Cuban government made it clear that it is interested in bringing foreign investment, a policy that must be backed with a law that is in tune with the current economic situation.
Many expect that the new legislation will consider new aspects such as duty-free allowances, new projects for the construction, operation and further transfer of property, holding associations and the expansion of free zones.
Experts say that it is also necessary to make some aspects more flexible, such as the hiring of labour by implementing a better and more appropriate taxation and salary policy. They also suggest looking at money remittances in terms of foreign financing for the private sector and to draw up a policy linked to this capital flow in favour of foreign investment.
Meanwhile, a 32-member Brazilian entrepreneurial mission will visit Cuba over the next few days to explore business and investment opportunities in the Special Development Zone in the western harbour of Mariel.
According to Cuban television, the representative in Cuba of Brazil's Investment and Export Promotion Agency (APEX-BRASIL), Hipolito Rocha, the group of companies represents the food, construction, medications, machinery and equipment, some of them for oil drilling, sectors.
Rocha recalled that trade exchange between Cuba and Brazil has increased by 9.2 percent over the past five years, with Brazil now being among Cuba's major commercial partners.
The commercial initiative, organized by Apex-Brasil, will also include the participation by officials from the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, the Mariel Special Development Zoe and the Cuban Foreign Trade and Investment Ministry.