The good state of inter-governmental relations and the opportunities to broaden economic and trade links, since 2014 in particular, are manifest in the willingness of both Cuba and Japan to extend and deepen bilateral ties.

The good state of inter-governmental relations and the opportunities to broaden economic and trade links, since 2014 in particular, are manifest in the willingness of both Cuba and Japan to extend and deepen bilateral ties.This position was recently ratified during a visit to the Asian country by the First Deputy Prime Minister if Cuba, Miguel Diaz Canal and in a workshop in Havana in which a mission of 60 members of the business community, representing 35 bodies based in Japan and in the the U.S. Mexico, Brazil and Panama participated.

In his exchanges with Japanese authorities, Diaz-Canel outlined the current good state of the commercial and political relations between Havana and Tokyo, he recalled that Japan was Cuba’s second largest trade partner between the 1970’s and the 1980’s and expressed the view that Japan could once again become a key player in the Cuban trade dynamic.

His comments reflected the expressed wishes of the Japanese empresarios who made the trip to Havana; to once again conquer and amplify bilateral commercial relations, something for which a positive business context exists.

Jointly organized by the Japanese Organization for the Promotion of Trade (JETRO) and the Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Cuba, participants learned about the behavior and challenges of the Cuban economy and how best to trade with the nation, in addition to details relating to the legal framework regarding the 326 projects on the list of business opportunities.

The JETRO executive vice-president stressed that this the first visit to Cuba by such an extensive group. The agenda included a visit to the Mariel Special Development Zone and to biotechnoly and pharmaceutical industry centers and exchanges with managers and specialists from the ministries most relevant to their interests.

Shindo confirmed that with the growing proximity of his country’s business community to Cuba, JETRO now must gather as much information as it can about Cuban trade and the economy and especially about the updating and transformations presently in motion on the Island.

Since April 25 last, the Japanese body has a dedicated Cuba section that specializes in useful information about the Cuban economic context.

The JETRO vice-president commented that this initiative will be complimented by a Japan stall at the next edition of the Havana International Trade Fair, the results of the new era of joint businesses and the openness of Japanese company representatives to invest here.

To this wave, over recent years there has been an increasing number of companies keen to return to Cuba, highlighted by the opening of a Mitsubishi office in Havana and the soon to open Marubeni y Mitsui branches.

The Five Cuba-Japan bilateral exchanges in which 600 officials and empresarios participated held in 2015 demonstrate the high level of interest in doing business with Cuba.

Ryosuke Yamakura, the trade advisor at the Japanese embassy is of the view that 2016 will prove to be very significant because it will mark an enhancement of bilateral ties in the context of a scenario that favors inward foreign investment in Cuba and within which the business community from her country will have a presence.

In this regard, Rigoberto Enoa, Asia and Oceania director at the Ministry for Foreign Trade and Investment, indicated that both sides had identified new sectors of interest such as food production, transport and energy for future businesses, whilst the traditional exchanges in the field of medicine, construction and agriculture will be maintained.

Enoa described the present as the best time to amplify these ties and to push joint ventures because of the favorable political talks between both nations and the proximity of the closure of the negotiations about the restructuring of debt owed to the Japanese private and state sectors.

Odalys Seijo, vice-president of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce confirmed at the gathering that foreign investment is a crucial instrument for the country’s development and she invited the business community members present to take advantage of the opportunity.

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