4th December 2023
During an official visit to the United Arab Emirates, Cuba’s President has said that the Cuban Government is willing “to support any type of investment that the Emirati business community wants to make on the Island.”
Speaking in Doha to leading local businesspeople and prior to participating in the COP28 Climate Change Conference, President Díaz-Canel said that when he had met with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE and Emir of Abu Dhabi, several important agreements had been signed. They are expected, he said, to raise economic-commercial engagement to the same level as the two nation’s “excellent political-diplomatic relations.”
These would, he said, support the Emirati business community become investors and included: a reciprocal Investment protection treaty; another eliminating double taxation; the creation of an inter-governmental commission; the establishment of a bilateral business committee; the development of an economic cooperation agenda; and the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the central banks of both countries.
Díaz-Canel also noted that the cooperation developed so far, including the use of credits from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, for upgrading water infrastructure and new renewable energy sources, pointed the way to develop new business opportunities with this fund.
He also referred to Cuba’s willingness to access the UAE’s Mubadala Fund, through joint projects and investments in the fields of food production, tourism, renewable energy, and biotechnology, and in other areas. The Mubadala Fund is a sovereign wealth fund with US$276bn in assets, has global interests across multiple sectors and asset classes, and operates from offices in Abu Dhabi, London, Moscow, New York, and Beijing.
In his remarks Díaz-Canel highlighted the Emir’s proposal that they explore ways to significantly expand travel in both directions, strengthening air interconnections. He also stressed the opportunities in tourism and biotechnology that Cuba is willing to provide, as well as in the wholesale and retail trade.
In a briefing to the Cuban media accompanying the President, Déborah Rivas, the Vice Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (Mincex), said that the conversation between the two Presidents “will have an energising effect on economic and commercial relations.” Because after many months of preparation it had been possible to establish a group of international legal instruments “of utmost importance for investors in any country in the world,” Cuba, she said, regarded the visit as both
“strategic, [and] historic.”
“Signing these documents with a country like the United Arab Emirates opens a path of greater transparency and legal certainty for investors” in a manner that is attractive, she said. It will enable Cuba “to achieve our policy of attracting foreign investment for prioritised sectors.”
In her remarks, Rivas noted that Emirati investments in Cuba could enable food production both for domestic supply and for export to the Latin American and Caribbean region, and facilitate the development of renewable energy, especially solar. She also suggested that the agreements reached will open business opportunities in the real estate sector and in hotel development.
On banking, the Vice Minister indicated that it is expected that the memorandum of understanding between the central banks of both countries will open possibilities for Cuban and Emirati commercial banks to establish direct banking and financial relations. She also noted that during the visit other agreements were signed relating to science, technology, and innovation, and in the sports sector.
During his visit to Dubai, President Díaz-Canel met with resident Cuban nationals to whom he indicated that the Emir, the UAE President, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, “was very sensitive towards Cuba, understanding our situation and with a tremendous willingness to increase economic-commercial relations.“
“Friendship, mutual respect and admiration have predominated in our relations, and I believe that all possibilities are opening up at this time” to promote everything based on mutually beneficial economic-commercial development,” Cuba’s President said.
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Photo: Gulf Observer