The International Center of Havana is a company that offers a range of services to foreign entities that do not reside in the country, ranging from advice for their establishing in Cuba , to the counseling service for studies of business opportunities in certain markets or the introduction of some of its technologies in the Cuban industry.
OnCuba recently spoke with Alberto Pérez Tejeda, president of this institution, looking for details about the work they do and the possibilities for foreign businessmen to invest in Cuba.
What role does the CIH have in the promotion and support to foreign investment in Cuba?
The foreign businessmen look in us the support of experienced professionals that, from here, can monitor the market, recommend strategies for sale, introduction or market their goods and services.
Cuba recently issued a decree – law establishing the operation of the Special Development Zone Mariel. How does the CIH get involved in this mega project?
We support companies in their initial development and subsequent consolidation, both domestic and international companies wishing to start operations solidly assisted by experts.
We started with the help in the exploration of the Cuban market, investment needs; we make feasibility studies, and continue with the services that we can give them once based in the area, including bookkeeping, auditing, technical consultancies, stock products and technology transfer training.
We provide audit services to more than half of branches of foreign companies in Cuba to meet their Cuban records accounting standards and to be reliable. It is a line of high income that does not involve physical movement of people, but for the foreigner to come to Cuba.
Considering your advisory portfolio, what areas of the Cuban economy are more interesting for foreign entrepreneurs?
There is a strong interest in the introduction of some technologies in the country, mainly related to energy management. Some try to trade with Cuba from the outside and looking for ways that our advice will make that way easier for them. They seek support in legal matters.
How could you further optimize your services?
We could do that by improving access to Internet. Many operations are done through the network and a difficulty is the insufficient bandwidth: we cannot maintain a completely effective communication. Our infrastructure prevents transactions and payments through internet. We have not been able to develop these facilities through trade anywhere. We also cannot provide other services such as teleconferencing, distance learning, or any kind of training.
Do they have working relationships with peer organizations in the region?
Yes. We have explored the Caribbean and Central America. Currently there are three entities willing to make strategic alliances with us. However, we have a previous experience of working together with similar institutions of repute. With them we provided audit services in Cuba, and some with international certifications.
In your view, what are the advantages of investing in Cuba?
Our country has a geographic location in the center of a growing market, with important trade routes. We have a highly skilled workforce, good infrastructure, electrification of 95% in the whole country, as well as favorable indicators of population health.
Moreover, Cuba is integrated into the Latin American and Caribbean region through different organizations, and has 62 agreements for the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments (BIT), and 11 agreements to avoid double taxation.
Do you think that foreign investment will remain a need for the Cuban economy?
Foreign investment in Cuba is very important because it is one of the ways to develop the economy in terms of the fundamental needs of the country. Our close relationship with the Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Trade and Foreign Investment allows us to concentrate work in areas such as tourism, hotel facilities, or activities related to energy saving.
Text and photo: Sundred Suzarte Medina