to open new stage in foreign investment
Havana, Oct 1 (IANS) In what may be seen
as an attempt to open up its economy, Cuba
is preparing to invite more foreign investment
in a 'new climate' in the country and to
prevent errors committed in the past, Foreign
Investment Minister Marta Lomas said.
'There's a new climate for investment,
the consolidation of the economy is a fact.
We've had years with sustained growth of
the economy and that allows there to be
a new climate for doing new things,' Spanish
news agency EFE quoted Lomas as saying.
Cuba opened itself to foreign investment
at the beginning of the 1990s, during the
so-called 'special period,' to salvage itself
form an economic crisis resulting from the
fall of the Soviet bloc.
Almost 20 years later, 'we're in a situation
of maturation of foreign investment....
We're in a condition to expand without committing
the errors of the early years (made) in
ignorance and because of economic necessity,'
the minister said.
In a speech to commemorate the Cuban Revolution
Day on July 26, interim President Raul Castro
emphasized the need to increase production
and reduce imports, and expressed readiness
to open up new areas to foreign investment.
Tourism is one area the government is looking
forward to with increased foreign investment,
Lomas said, although 'we're studying main
sectors of the economy' to identify priorities.
The minister said the recently concluded
Hispanic-Cuban Business Committee meeting
ended on an upbeat note and that the leaders
agreed to more talks next year to identify
possible investment projects.
Cuba and Spain signed an agreement Saturday
re-establishing the cooperation programmes
suspended four years ago in the wake of
a crackdown by Havana on dissidents.
At the end of 2006, according to official
estimates, Cuba had 236 foreign and mixed
firms operating on the island the business
volume of which exceeded $3 billion annually.