German firms explore investment in Cuba

Screen shot 2014-11-11 at 7.59.41 AMThe Cuban government has unveiled a raft of investment projects in hopes to attract foreign capital. But German firms criticize the lack of support from their government, DW’s Andreas Knobloch writes from Havana.

Now that Cuba’s economy has made steps to open up to foreign capital, the island’s communist government hopes to lure potential investors with numerous incentives. But doing business in Cuba requires a different approach.

“The Cuban market has many special features,” said Stephan Gruber, one of the directors of Casa Alemania, a German umbrella organization for German companies wanting to do business in Cuba. “The short term does not work in Cuba.”

Gruber said Casa Alemania, which means Germany House, has built up experience in dealing with Cuban businesses through years of discussions, earning what he described as “acceptance through continuity.”

German ambassador Peter Scholz (r) visited the trade fair

German ambassador Peter Scholz (r) visited the trade fair

No room at the German pavilion

This experience includes a stand at the 32nd Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV 2014), which has just come to a close. Some 2,000 companies from 60 countries took part in the week-long show that covered over 18,000 square meters. Thirty-seven exhibitors traveled from Germany – most of them technology and engineering companies, including heavyweights such as Bosch, MAN and ThyssenKrupp. For the third year in a row, the German pavilion was fully booked.

It’s no secret that Cuba is now in transition. For several years, the country has been undertaki

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