Sri Lanka has a lot of opportunities for trade and investment in Cuba which has a favourable business environment to conduct trade with the rest of the world, Cuban Ambassador Juana Elena Rodrigues told a seminar on ‘Bilateral Trade between Cuba and Sri Lanka’ organized by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka recently.
The Cuban Ambassador extended an open invitation to Sri Lanka entrepreneurs to visit the country and explore opportunities for trade and investment.
“The Cuban business system is undergoing restructuring to facilitate trade and investment. Over 10,000 companies, cooperatives and subsidized units function in the country,” the Ambassador said. She said there is ample scope for investment and joint ventures in field of education, pharmaceuticals, tourism and renewable energy which accounts for around four percent of energy source.
“We are interested in learning about coconut cultivation in Sri Lanka. The minister of agriculture is keen to visit Sri Lanka to gather more information about the crop,” Rodrigues said.
She recognized the vast scope for tourism development in both countries which are enormously endowed with natural resources. Cuba attracted over four million visitors to the country last year. There is no investment from Cuba in the tourism sector in Sri Lanka. However, both countries are exploring opportunities to develop this sector which is a key foreign exchange earner to both countries. Agriculture and forestry, pharmaceuticals, food, sugar, chemical, electronic, iron, steel and machine industries are potential sectors for investment in Cuba.
Cuba has placed foreign investment as a vital component in updating its economic model aimed at diversification and expansion of export markets, access to advanced technology, replacement of imports and creation of new job opportunities.
Education, healthcare and tourism are hallmarks of the largest Caribbean island which has commercial links with over 160 countries. Cuba commenced diplomatic ties with USA with leaders of both countries meeting each other for the first time in decades in Havana in 2015. The first consignment from Cuba left its shores to USA last year marking a milestone in the relationship between the two countries.
Social and political stability, reorganising and updating of its foreign investment policy, high literacy, geographic location, natural resources, a special development zones with a modern port, access to maritime transportation, bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, trade chambers and investment promotion agencies are some of the benefits of investing in Cuba. With a population nearing 11 million, Cuba maintains diplomatic and consular ties with over 180 countries. It is signatory and a member of many regional and international organizations with over 140 missions in over 120 countries. - LF