Italy has been one of the trading partners that has historically valued the Cuban market. With this spirit of exchange and expectations set on further cooperation and development, a business forum was recently held (May 10-12) in Havana’s Hotel Nacional, seeking closer ties between Cuban enterprises and businesses from the Mediterranean country.
Carmine Robustelli, ambassador of the Italian Republic in Havana, speaking to Granma International, highlighted the significance of the event, which was preceded by important business trips of different dimensions, as well as the official visit to the island last year by the President of the Italian Council of Ministers, Matteo Renzi.
Regarding interaction and common interests, Robustelli stressed, “This event is interesting because it brings together a number of entities and covers various sectors. We are specifying the lines of work identified during the visit, and for us it is very important that the commitments of our companies here are long-term, a commitment to stay, as many have done in the last 20 years. We already have a very strong business network in the country.”
Italy’s intention is to expand and increase the range of sectors and work on fulfilling our commitments to Cuba, mainly in trade and investment, but always following the same logic: working together with Cuban institutions and enterprises, so that Italy can be a partner in the island’s development, within the outlined priority areas, the Italian ambassador stressed.
It was also revealed that at the end of this month, an office of the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (I.C.E) will officially open its doors in Havana, the only one of its kind in the Caribbean, according to statements by Mauro Di Tommasi, appointed director of the office. New staff will arrive later this year.
“It is an important effort by Italy,” Di Tommasi told this weekly. “And it will mark a point of departure in relations between the two countries and also a starting point, of assistance, promotion and support, as well as the undertaking of concrete projects.”
The Secretary General of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, Omar Fernández, emphasized the interest to continue combining efforts and manage trade initiatives, which could positively impact increased production of goods and services, a priority for the island, with the added challenge ahead of diversifying international export destinations.
Another fundamental aspect is enhancing the insertion and presence of Cuban exportable items in the Italian market and revitalizing our industrial system. At present, Cuba’s main exports to Italy are forest products – primarily for construction – metal waste and rum.
Celia Labora, director of International Relations for the Chamber of Commerce, explained steps being taken to establish business with Cuba, from the identification of the counterparty to the signing of the contract. She also updated forum participants on the economic performance of the island during 2015 and the measures implemented in this area, creating a favorable climate for business, as well as the distinctive features of foreign trade in Cuba.