By Joaquín Rivery Tur (Granma International)
The recent conversations held between President of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos and Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, president of the Councils of State and Ministers, and delegations from both nations’ produced positive results for economic collaboration between the two countries.
During the meeting, both heads of state confirmed the excellent state of bilateral relations, which they emphasized as being an expression of the historic ties of friendship and solidarity which unite the two peoples and governments. International issues of mutual interest were also discussed.
Dos Santos was accompanied by Edeltrude Mauricio Fernandes Gaspar da Costa, minister of State and head of the Civil House; Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, minister of Foreign Relations; Armando Manuel, minister of Finance, Carlos Alberto Saravia, diplomatic and cooperation advisor to the President and José César Augusto “Kiluanji”, ambassador for Angola in Cuba.
Participating on the Cuban side were, Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, a vice president of the Council of Ministers; Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, minister of Foreign Relations, and Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, minister of Foreign Trade and Investment; as well as Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas, president of the Business Administration Group and Gisela García Rivera, ambassador for Cuba in Angola.
After the official conversations and in the presence of the two Presidents, a Cooperation Agreement between Angola and Cuba was singed, relating specifically to civil construction and public works, for the period 2014-2017, drawn up by Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti and Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz.
The document confirms the willingness to expand bilateral cooperation to the benefit of the two countries, based on ties of fraternity and solidarity. Dos Santos also placed a floral wreath at the José Martí Monument in the Plaza de la Revolución.
During his visit, Dos Santos toured the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM), in particular the container terminal opened January 2014, a great structural work which should directly contribute to the country’s development as part of the updating of Cuba’s economic model. He received a detailed explanation of the investment advantages and opportunities offered by the ZEDM, for both national and foreign enterprises, whose projects must be focused on obtaining the greater exports, substituting imports with domestic products, and generating new sources of employment, always in coordination with the national economy. Dos Santos praised the benefits and recognized the potential for good returns which Cuba could achieve and inquired about methods to be used to resolve possible disputes.
Yanet Vázquez Valdés, joint director of the ZEDM Office, stated that they are working on some 23 investment projects from countries such as Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Brazil, China and Russia, with significant interest in industries such as biotechnology, food processing and agriculture, automation, light and heavy production, shipping, as well as the promotion of renewable energy.
She also emphasized the existence of tax benefits, as well as speedy processing (30-60 days) and investor assistance, minimizing paperwork.
Vázquez Valdés highlighted that another of the guarantees focuses on legal support for potential investors, which will be reflected in the forthcoming review of the Act 118 of the Foreign Investment Law.
In regards to the zone’s basic infrastructure, some 465.4 square kilometers, she stated that work on the rail system continues, which will link with the national rail network, allowing for significant savings on transport costs.
The container terminals, a 100% Cuban venture and the first enterprise to be in operation in the ZEDM, has one of the most advanced operating systems in the global port industry; and has through June 15, 2014, received more than 18,700 containers.
With some 702 meters of dock, the port meets the ZEDM’s current needs and expansion is predicted in accordance with the country’s own industrial development.