The visit to Cuba of Austrian president, Heinz Fischer, who was accompanied by a large business delegation, marked an important point in the development of commercial and financial relations and the future promotion of investments.

During a business forum, representatives of 26 large Austrian companies engaged in exchanges aimed at evaluating potential investment processes and areas of mutual interest to facilitate a diversification of the goods and services imported and exported.

The visit to Cuba of Austrian president, Heinz Fischer, who was accompanied by a large business delegation, marked an important point in the development of commercial and financial relations and the future promotion of investments.In his opening remarks, the president called on companies from his country to do business with Cuba and to take advantage of the presence of two experienced executive delegations, attractive opportunities and areas of mutual need.

He described Austria as a politically stable and peaceloving business partner with high levels of technological, industrial and infrastructural development, and a highly skilled professional workforce.

The Cuban side present at the opening of the event held in the capital’s Hotel Nacional included Rodrigo Malmierca, Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment (Mincex in Spanish) and Orlando Hernández, head of the Chamber of Commerce.

The Minister gave thanks in particular to Austria’s continuous support for the lifting of the U.S. blockade on Cuba which he said was “regrettably still being enforced”.

The head of Mincex said that on the basis of Cuba’s recent re-negotiation of its foreign debt with the Paris Club’s Ad-Hoc Creditors Group, the two countries had reached an agreement to put their bilateral financial relations in order.

He added that they also had reached an understanding on fresh opportunities for Cuba to access Austrian finance for trade and the deployment of investments.

The Austrian Federal Economy Chamber and the Cuban Chamber of Commerce also signed a memorandum of understanding to ease the flow of merchandise and investments and to enhance their overall economic relations.

According to the European entity’s vice-president, Christoph Matznetter, the increased contacts could be mutually advantageous in proposals for exchanges that presently involve the purchase of assorted Cuban products such as sugar, organic honey, tobacco and rum.

He explained that Austrian businesses in Cuba are noteworthy for their presence in the supply of technology to the railway sector and to the brewing industry, as well as in synthetic materials used in mining, amongst other areas.

In Matznetter’s view, the Caribbean nation is an attractive base from which to do business, given its strategic geographical location, the high educational level of the population and the present ongoing process towards the normalization of relations with the United States.

The executive lamented that Cuba is forced to carry the weight of having been blockaded for decades and emphasized a willingness to facilitate ties for the improvement of the people’s economic situation.

Members of the business community from the food and drinks, renewable energy, international wholesale, and the treatment of solid and liquid waste sectors also signed accords at the forum in Havana.

The president of the Chamber of Commerce in Cuba, Orlando Hernández, highlighted the coincidence between the proposals of the European country and the priorities established here in the portfolio of business opportunities with foreign companies.

In this regard, he valued the interest in obtaining external technologies and financial resources in order to improve transport, telecommunications, food production, the exploitation of renewable energy sources and agriculture.

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