The Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Spain, José Manuel Soria, has travelled to Havana to stre ngthen institutional and business bonds between Spain and Cuba. He would have the chance to meet with the Vice president of the Cuban Council of Ministers, Ricardo Cabrisas, Industry sources say.
The Minister would hold some meetings to work not only with Cabrisas but with other representatives from the Cuban government, for instance, his counterpart in charge of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Alfredo López Valdés, and the Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca.
Soria travels in the middle of the thaw of diplomatic bonds between Cuba and US, which have announced the reopening of their embassies next 20th July; in this way the diplomatic bonds broken 50 years ago would be re-established.
Firstly, the Minister of Economy of Spain, Luis de Guindos, was going to be the one who led the Spanish travel to Cuba. However, Soria has gone instead, so that Guindos could follow closely the situation in Greece, as this last Sunday they held a referendum on the proposals made by the Troika to unfreeze the finance of the country.
Soria has been also accompanied by the Secretary for the State of Trade, Jaime García-Legaz, the General Manager for Trade and Investments, Antonio Fernández-Martos Montero, the General Manager of ICEX, Isaac Martín Barbero and the Foreign Manager of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, Alfredo Bonet Baiget.
During the trip, Soria would close a business meeting with companies with interests in the Caribbean country. Spain is the third largest trading partner of Cuba, as it has 200 companies based in the country.
Cuban’s policy regarding foreign investment is not the common one in other countries.
The Foreign Investment Act allows temporary tax and customs exemptions and a special set of rules for investments with government interests. In any case, everything is subject to the negotiation between the parties and no special sectorial incentives are planned.
Tourism is the second economic activity of the isle, with a turnover of €1,832 billons per year, following the sale of medical services that generates €4,400 billons.
The Spanish tourism is indeed one of the industries that have strong interests in Cuba. That’s why it supports diplomatic bonds between US and Cuba to be re-established, as they will soften trade and travel limits.
More than ten Spanish hotel chains also have interests on the isle. One of them is Meliá Hotels International with more establishments, up to 27 hotels with an offer of 13,000 rooms. This year the hotel group celebrates its 25 years on the isle.
It is followed by Iberostar (10), the chain Roc (3), Barceló (2), Be Live (2), BlueBay (2), Hotusa (2) and NH (1).
Additionally, Air Europa has a daily flight between Madrid and Havana, a symbolic route that Iberia has recovered this year after two years being suspended.