Havana International Fair returns with a large Spanish presence 

14th November 2022

After a two-year break because of the pandemic, the Havana International Fair (FIHAV) will in the coming week again take place with more than sixty countries represented, multiple official delegations, and a substantial business presence from Spain.

Speaking about the thirty eighth FIHAV, Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, told viewers of the Cuban television programme, Mesa Redonda, that the numbers participating in the 14 to 18 November fair, is a “ sign of the confidence that the international community is willing to do business in the Cuban market,” despite, he said, the US embargo.

Among the larger delegations will be one from Spain consisting of over eighty companies, according to the Spanish Embassy in Havana. Organised by the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade, a part of the country’s  Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, the Spanish enterprises will occupy four pavilions, including one consisting of many of the most significant companies in the Basque region. During the first day of the event a ‘dia de españa’ will be celebrated at FIHAV.

In a statement, the Spanish Embassy said that the country continues to be a strategic trading partner and the member of the EU that exports the most to Cuba. It noted that 47% of EU exports originate in Spain and were valued at almost €630mn (US$653mn) in 2021.

It is expected that during the Fair several announcements will be made about new investments

including a new Cuban beer brand to be launched as a joint venture with a European partner.  It is also anticipated that a joint venture with Unilever will be formally inaugurated in the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM), and a stone laying event take place relating to the expansion of Richmeat De Mexico SA’s meat product operations in Cuba .

Addressing the complex economic challenges facing the country and Cuba’s indebtedness, Malmierca said that international business understood the difficulties the country is presently facing. “They have been informed that delays in payments or other problems in meeting the commitments made will be resolved gradually,” he told Cuban television viewers.

Malmierca noted that some 16,000 square meters of exhibition space at FIHAV had been taken, which he said was “a figure close to the best in recent years.”  

In terms of representation, this year’s fair will see China, Russia, Spain, France, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Venezuela having the greatest representation with about twenty-five countries having business groups led by ministers, deputy ministers and secretaries of state.

As in the past there will be a substantial presence of Cuban enterprise, with some 400 companies housed in the Fair’s central pavilion. This year, in addition to state enterprises, there will also be  represented joint ventures and several independently managed MSMEs which the Cuban government believes have the potential for export.

Speaking about the US presence at FIHAV, which peaked during the short period of détente under President Obama, Malmierca said that there will be companies from the US present, “not a large number,” but nine had confirmed their participation as exhibitors while others were participating in different delegations.

In his remarks he laid stress on the continuing importance of encouraging investment in Mariel’s ZEDM and said that a new updated portfolio of foreign investment opportunities will be detailed in presentations internationally accessible live online from ZEDM pavilion on Tuesday 15 November .

The Foreign Investment Forum which will include presentations by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Investment, the Director General of the Mariel Special Development Zone, the Head of Market Research Group, PROCUBA, and the Director of VUINEX, a one-stop-shop for foreign investors. To register and attend, interested parties should visit https://cuba.feriahabana.cu/en/investing-forein-forum/

The Caribbean Council is able to provide further detail about all of the stories in Cuba Briefing. If you would like a more detailed insight into any of the content of today’s issue, please get in touch.