HAVANA.- Set to become the principal sea port in both Cuba and the Caribbean and an important regional logistical center, the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM in Spanish) today encompasses one of the primary incentives for foreign investment in Cuba.

Eight projects have been approved to date for operation within the 465.5 km2 enclave, in the province of Artemisa and situated some 45 kilometers west of Havana.

Wendy Miranda, director of Procedural Coordination at ZEDM, told The Havana Reporter that five of these enterprises were fully funded by foreign capital.

The remaining three are joint ventures comprising the Cuban Brazilian cigarette producer Brascuba, the Cuban company that will provide logistical services in Mariel and that contracted to administer the Mariel Container Terminal (TCM in Spanish) in conjunction with the Singapore PSA company.

HAVANA.- Set to become the principal sea port in both Cuba and the Caribbean and an important regional logistical center, the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM in Spanish) today encompasses one of the primary incentives for foreign investment in Cuba.Of the five foreign funded enterprises, two – the meat producer Richmeat and the paint manufacture Devox Caribe -- are Mexican, two more – one in logistics and another in technological development -- are Belgian and the remaining company is ProFood, a producer of food and drinks destined for the hotel industry.

These projects are based in the A sector (43km2), situated to the west of Mariel Bay which is the first to be developed and is divided into 11 areas according to the activities that they will host.

An updated version of the list created for the participation of inward foreign investment includes 36 new ventures, six within the ZEDM and the others to be executed throughout the Island.

Those that correspond to the ZEDM comprise, in the industrial sector, the installation of factories to produce, amongst others, 1,200,000 tyres per year for light vehicles and 400,000 units for heavy goods vehicles, aluminum and glass containers, light vehicles, engineering and technological projects firms, all on the joint ventures model.

In agri-foods, a processing plant for the production of refined soya oil is envisaged, whilst other proposals are aimed at the health, tourism, bio-technology and biopharmaceutical sectors.

There are plans for the establishment of joint venture or international economic associations based plants for the production of medical waste materials, instant dry raising agent, medications, monoclonal antibodies, biopharmaceuticals, hemo-derivatives and other products.

The new foreign investment list encompasses 326 projects – 80 more than its predecessor – of which 40 are at an advanced negotiation stage – worth in excess of 80 billion dollars. They cover 12 sectors of the economy such as tourism, the oil industry, mining, agriculture and renewable energy.

According to authorities, the country needs an annual 2 billion dollar influx of capital in this regard, to stimulate Gross Domestic Product growth and to enhance foreign investor confidence.

Representatives of the five fully foreign funded companies approved for location in the ZEDM, said at the publication of the list that it was a privilege to rank amongst the first to be installed in the zone that offers access to a developing market with great potential.

Whilst intensive construction works continue in the enclave, it is forecast that dredging works will conclude in December 2015 and according to Charles A Baker, director general of Mariel Container Terminal S.A., the following month the first Panamax ships will arrive at Mariel.

The official added that they are preparing to receive post-Panamax ships – those which presently exceed present Panama Canal capabilities – when amplification works are completed in 2016.

Road and rail network port connection construction works are also progressing in the ZEDM and the requisite urbanization works for the start of bio-technology projects are underway.

The development of the One Stop Shop model, created to reduce the amount of paperwork for companies keen to invest, is also in progress.

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