Univeler, one of the largest companies of its type in the world, have come back to Cuba to launch a joint venture in the manufacture of hygiene, toiletry and household cleaning products with the benefits of the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM in Spanish).

The Anglo-Dutch consortium with an annual turn-over of around 50 billion euros and a presence in 190 countries, previously did business in Cuba through an economic association with the Suchel firm, between 1994 and 2012.

Univeler, one of the largest companies of its type in the world, have come back to Cuba to launch a joint venture in the manufacture of hygiene, toiletry and household cleaning products with the benefits of the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM in Spanish).Fabio Prado, Unilever’s Mexican and Caribbean President told the press that the return is a vote of confidence for Cuba, saying “we are highly satisfied”.

In the executive’s opinion, the changes introduced in the present foreign investment act, (Law 118, March 2014) and the fiscal incentives and other benefits associated with the Mariel zone, create conditions for “the construction of more solidly based powerful projects”.

The office that facilitates investment opportunities in the ZEDM outlined that Unilever currently controls 300 registered brands, has in excess of 250 factories worldwide, employs some 174,000 people and invests 1 billion dollars annually in research and development.

On January 11 this year Unilever and their Cuban counterpart Intersuchel S.A., were informed that governmental approval had been granted for the formation of the joint venture company and its operation within the ZEDM enclave, west of Havana.

Fully funded by Cuban capital, the Intersuchel S.A. corporation participates in joint ventures dedicated to the manufacture and sale of cosmetics, personal care and hygiene, and household and cleaning products.

The agreement between the two corporations permits the foreign partner to lead, with a 60% stake, whilst the Cuban firm retains a 40% share.

Prado stated that the joint venture would build a modern factory in the ZEDM for the manufacture of the branded cleaning and personal hygiene products: Sedal, Rexona, OMO, lux and Close-Up.

The company will also be responsible for the wholesale distribution and sale of merchandise for the domestic market.

Universal and Intersuchel directors told the national and international press that the investment amounted to more than 35 million dollars, with production planned to commence towards the end of 2017.

Both sides agreed that the creation of Unilever Suchel S.A. will facilitate access to foreign capital and funding on favorable terms and permit the assimilation of new management methods and the exchange of “know-how”.

Prado indicated that almost 300 new jobs will be directly created by the factory, the technological equipment of which will be notable for its high standard of quality and environmental friendliness.

The official added that although the ultimate aims of the project are to attract investment, promote technological innovation and achieve industrial concentration, we are guided by the principal of environmental protection.

He stressed that this latter aspect had proved particularly attractive, given that sustainability “is one of our primary concerns and forms part of the DNA of our company’s life plan.

The chief of Intersuchel S.A., Pedro Fraga believes that the future factory will contribute to the stable domestic market supply of branded goods of an international standard, in response to the increasing public demand generated by the growth in tourism.

The official act that gave the venture the go-ahead was attended by Lilianne Ploumen, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Cooperation of the Netherlands (Holland, Curacao, Aruba and St. Martin).

The official considered that the presence of Unilever in Cuba and the approval of the joint venture represented the first success on a long road to the expansion of bilateral cooperation.

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