HAVANA, 17 November Cuba asked international companies on Monday to invest over $8 billion to help the island combat its economic crisis. The money would assist with kick-starting a centrally planned economy starved for cash and hamstrung by inefficiency.
Foreign Commerce Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz announced that it will cost about $8.7 billion to build a list of over 200 potential projects. The list of possible investments is a big step in a push for foreign capital.
“Cuba is pushing strongly to take advantage of the benefits associated with foreign investment to stimulate development,” he said. Hopes for foreign capital could allow fewer restrictions on investments. It could also help to create a special trade zone around a new deep-water port west of Havana.
Yet, foreigners at Havana’s International Fair say that Cuba is a place that still makes investors deeply nervous. The comments made at the country’s main economic promotional event come at a time when many basic supplies are lacking and simple decisions could take months for approval from overlapping government agencies.
The Cuban government refuses to release basic information about current levels of foreign investment. Malmierca says refusal of the information is to protect Cuba against the United States misusing the figure.
Cuba blames the U.S. for much of its economic misfortune while America maintains an embargo on the island. Cuba is “in an economic war with the world’s primary power,” he said to the Associated Press.
“We don’t give out that data.” The country says it needs to drive foreign investment to more than $2 billion a year in order to help raise an economic growth rate not expected to exceed 1 percent this year
. The main goal is to push growth to 5 percent annually. Foreign executives also complain that doing business with Cuba is not the best idea because they would have to hire Cuban employees through a state agency, making it difficult to directly choose and promote people.