Cuba stresses foreign investment with respect for sovereignty

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Havana, Feb 17 (IANS) In a message apparently designed to allay fears in Cuba of an imminent US corporate invasion, a top business figure said foreign investment was welcome as long as it respected sovereignty.

Orlando Hernandez Guillen, president of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce and a member of a trade delegation currently on a working visit to Washington, said on Tuesday that “once the US lifts its sanctions on Cuba… US investments will be convenient to the extent that they are consistent with the national interests and sovereignty of the island,” Xinhua reported.

Guillen “sought to reassure those who express concern regarding possible negative impacts on the island, should the blockade end and the US trade and investment with the island expand.”

To that end, Guillen stressed the country’s Foreign Investment Law, designed to ensure investment projects are in line with national interests, also applies to the US.

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“These are the same conditions that will be present when the North Americans invest,” he said.

On Monday, media reported the US government has approved the opening of the first US factory in Cuba, tractor manufacturing company Cleber LLC, which will be setting up shop in Cuba’s Mariel special development zone.

Cleber partners Horace Clemmons and Saul Berenthal, based in Alabama, said their objective was not just to “sell something” to Cuba, but to establish a business “that can solve the problems that they consider are the most important problems.”

The company plans to built low-cost tractors for Cuba’s small farmers.

“It is a first step but we are positively motivated and hope it becomes a point of reference,” Guillen said.

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