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Cuba expects 1st investments in first development zone in coming months

Cuba’s Mariel Special Development Zone

Havana, Nov 5 (EFE).- The first investment projects in the Mariel Special Development Zone, or ZEDM, the first of its kind in Cuba, will kick off later this year or in early 2015 in sectors including food-processing and renewable energy, the Communist Party daily Granma reported Wednesday.

The announcement of investment plans for the port and trade zone, located in the town of Mariel some 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Havana, comes a year after the official opening of its regulations office and the start of administrative procedures for receiving foreign investment.

The director-general of the development zone’s office, Ana Teresa Igarza, announced the new timeframe for the first projects during the ongoing Havana International Fair, where the ZEDM organized a business forum.

Investment proposals have come from companies based in some 30 countries, including Spain, Italy, China, Russia, France, Vietnam, Brazil, Mexico, the Netherlands and Canada, Granma reported, citing Igarza.

The first projects are in light industry and the food-processing, construction and renewable energy sectors.

“The zone already has the basic infrastructure in place for the first investors – electricity, water, infocommunications. All that’s left are the plots and capability of moving these services to the interior of the installations,” Igarza said.

Cuba envisions Mariel and other special development zones planned for the future as growth engines and means of increasing exports, attracting foreign investment and creating new jobs.