HAVANA – An entrepreneurial online forum, held before the Summit of the Americas in Panama, revealed that Cuba has received over 300 formal expressions of interest in doing business in the Mariel Special Development Zone (MSDZ).
The forum dealt with some of the topics on the agenda of the second Business Summit of the Americas, including food security and agriculture, economic integration, economic empowerement of women, energy, infrastructure, and information technology, among others.
In response to various questions and comments about the MSDZ, Ana Teresa Igarza, director general of the office that oversees the aforementioned zone, said that applications received were in the process of preparing their respective documents.
The approved projects are presently undergoing the process of commercial registration and, once this status is attained, they will be set up in the MSDZ, she added. Within the upgrading of its economic model, Cuba is promoting foreign investments and transforming the MSDZ into its commercial gateway to the world.
Igarza explained that the zone had been created with the intention of providing a space for various industrial branches incorporating modern service provision. This is why some companies related to those sectors are in the process of setting up their business there.
She recalled that work on the MSDZ started in the area closest to the port and where a container terminal was built. The latter already features port facilities, railway and road infrastructures, as well as the first logistics area.
The official commented that progress is in line with the approved schedule for the construction of basic infrastructure including internal roads, electrical networks, water and sewage systems and communications.
Igarza also spoke of the bed dredging works which aim to deepen the entrance canal from 13.5 to 18 meters. This project is expected to be completed when the Panama Canal completes its widening project in mid-2016.
She also highlighted that, due to environmental reasons, the use of explosive for the amplification of the entrance had been ruled out.
Operated by the world leading Singapore PSA company, the new Mariel container terminal is in line with a development strategy that will lengthen the peer up to 2400 meters long which will allow it to handle some 3 million containers per year.
Cira Rodriguez, The Havana Reporter
April 16, 2015