Photo: Ricardo López Hevia
Photo: Ricardo López Hevia

For more than three decades, the Havana International Trade Fair (FIHHAV) has established itself as a productive space for exchange, business opportunities, commercial ties, and the exploration of new markets. The upcoming edition will be no exception, with the participation of companies from over 60 nations already confirmed.

Speaking during a press conference, Rodrigo Malmierca, minister of Foreign Trade and Investment (Mincex), noted that while the Donald Trump administration is bent on implementing further measures to hinder relations between the two nations, FIHAV 2018 demonstrates that “The world is with Cuba, despite the tightening of the economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the United States.”

The event, to run October 29 through November 2, will, as always, be held in the Expocuba fairgrounds, and welcome more than 2,500 foreign businesspeople, as well as some 30 chambers of commerce and institutions promoting trade, 20 high-level official delegations, and numerous groups with “portfolios at the ready.”

According to Abraham Maciques, director general of the PALCO Business Group, the fairground’s 25 national pavilions, which cover an area of approximately 25,000 square meters, will be full to the brim.

The central Expocuba pavilion, as is tradition, will display Cuban goods and services, with all economic sectors represented. According to Orlando Hernández Guillén, president of Cuba’s Chamber of Commerce, nearly 350 national enterprises will participate, distributed across some 5,000 square meters.

This edition will see a special stand, right by the fairgrounds entrance, dedicated to the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, a city that will be honored throughout the Fair. Luis Carlos Góngora, president of the Provincial Administration Council, explained that the event will serve as an opportunity to announce the strategy to celebrate the capital’s half millennium.

Regarding the participation of U.S. firms, Malmierca noted that set to attend is a number similar to that of the previous edition, when some 16 companies from that country reserved 250 square meters of the exhibition space. Among them will be the recently created joint enterprise for the production of therapeutic cancer vaccines, based at the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM).

The second Russia-Latin America and the Caribbean Business Forum is also part of the broad program. Likewise, an investment forum that will help bring foreign investors and their Cuban counterparts together, in order to facilitate and expedite the negotiation processes in this area, is included on the agenda. As part of the exchange, executives from the Mariel Special Development Zone will present the advances of this strategic area, located 45 kilometers from Havana.

Likewise, the latest Portfolio of Foreign Investment Opportunities will be presented, considered an essential element in the country’s socioeconomic development strategy. Last year, Cuba presented 456 projects amounting to total capital investment of 10.7 billion dollars.

Venezuela, China, and Russia, important commercial partners of Cuba, will repeat their customary presence, while Spain is once again the most represented country.

Despite the blockade, FIHAV continues to consolidate itself as one of the most important commercial exchange events in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Fair contributes every year to promoting the objectives outlined in terms of Cuba’s economic policy, to diversify its ties abroad, and expand the path of its enterprises.