ProCuba, Center for the Promotion of Foreign Trade And Foreign Investment, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment (MINCEX), provides specialized services to Cuban export, import and producing enterprises, as well as to potential foreign partners to boost, promote and market national goods and services and to identify business opportunities with foreign investment. In an interview with TTC, its director, Roberto Verrier Castro, a bachelor of economy, goes into detail about the important role of this entity in the context of the Cuban economy.
Verrier, why and for what was ProCuba created?
ProCuba is the result of two organizations that previously existed: the Institute of Economic Climate and the Center for the Promotion of Exports (CEPEC). With Law 118 on Foreign Investment and the corresponding promotion strategy, and given that a re-launching and resizing of the Center and its activities was already needed, MINCEX considered it opportune to rename it so that it would cover not only the activity of foreign trade but also that of foreign investment and collaboration, to back the work of our ministry.
And, at the same time, to attune to the characteristics of the equivalent centers of the world, which in the majority of cases bear the name of the country (Pro for promoting), like ProNicaragua or ProChile, we considered it convenient to adjust the new name to the new services it has assimilated, given the importance it was gaining by extending its concept.
General work lines of the institution…
ProCuba fulfills a group of important functions: it provides services to Cuban enterprises on information related to trade issues, about the World Trade Organization, the Latin American Association of Integration (ALADI); it carries forward the promotion strategies to encourage exports and foreign investment, that is to say, updating the global strategies and revising the sectorial ones together with the Cuban negotiating groups.
We provide diverse services to Cuban enterprises. To assist those aspiring to do business abroad we have an international database, Informa, which makes it possible to get to know the characteristics of the companies with which they are going to negotiate; and a repository of digital information about trade, foreign investment topics and other matters linked to the work of MINCEX. In addition, ProCuba makes commercial intelligence consultancy visits, which are adjusted in the Government’s plan every year; it organizes workshops to continue perfecting the work of the export companies and the negotiating groups; and it gives courses for exporters and importers of goods and exporters of services.
All the services we provide are free since we are an entity budgeted by the Cuban State.
What can someone interested in investing in Cuba find in ProCuba?
Let’s say that ProCuba extends a bridge in communication. We provide consultancy services to the foreigners who want to negotiate with Cuba: those interested in buying Cuban products or suppliers who want to sell their merchandise. We prepare agendas and contacts for them with the possible Cuban counterparts.
Attention, information and follow up is also given to positional investors who aim to invest in Cuba, who receive from us advice and information related to the Law, the regulatory norms and the business opportunities. We place those interested in the projects of the Opportunities Portfolio in contact with the Cuban negotiating groups to initiate the processes of exchange of information and negotiation.
In general, what role does ProCuba play in favor of the country’s development?
Its role is associated, on the one hand, to the integral development of foreign trade, together with many other entities, like the National Offices of Design and of Patent Rights. At present we are working with ApiCuba to increase the export of bee honey, and we’re going to cover other export products in order to increase exports and give our products added value.
In relation to foreign investment, we maintain the follow up of the investment promotion strategy, through our group in charge of potential investors, orient them and put them in contact with the negotiating groups; with hindsight, we give follow up to these projects that are initiated. At present we are projecting, in coordination with the General Department of Foreign Investment of MINCEX, a procedure for the “post establishment,” with a view to attending to the investors who are in the country, give them follow up, facilitate their work and foster that they reinvest.
From the functional point of view, how do you interact with the Chamber of Commerce?
It must be said that ProCuba and the Chamber of Commerce have a very close interaction, on investment as well as in commercial topics. We attend together the national and international fairs and ProCuba participates in the business forums and Business Committees organized by the Chamber. Both entities have foreign investment groups that work by mutual agreement.
What links does it have with the Mariel Special Development Zone?
To orient the potential investors who want to investigate to negotiate in the Zone…, we have the links established with the One-Stop Window to carry out these procedures. In fact, we have coordinated visits to Mariel for several interested people who have come from different countries, just like we do with suppliers, for whom we organize agendas with certain Cuban enterprises.
How are your ties with related institutions?
We maintain a systematic exchange with the equivalent centers from Latin America, Europe and Africa, which will be increasing in the mediate future.
In the last three years, ProCuba has considerably increased agreements with related institutions worldwide. Since we have a group of workers of which 80% are young, we have centered the effort in the formation of our specialists from all the areas, by virtue of which they have spent time with ProNicaragua, ProChile and ProMexico and have received courses in China and South Korea.
We are carrying out a project with the European Union that will make it possible to bring to Cuba high-level experts in trade and investment; at the same time, we have incorporated the necessary equipment to carry out events and give the courses that ProCuba organizes.
The extension of relations with equivalent institutions has allowed us to gain important experiences from the centers that have been working for many years and, therefore, have a great deal of experience in this sphere. We are now involved in a project with Business France that will favor the exchange of experts and holding workshops for the specialists of ProCuba to strengthen their training in order to provide Cuban businesspeople and those interested in doing business with Cuba a service of excellence.
Does ProCuba belong to related global organizations?
ProCuba is a member of World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA), of the Iberian Network, an agency that groups together the equivalent centers from Latin America; we also have points of contact with the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) and links with ECLAC. Our Information Center is a Center of National Reference of the World Trade Organization.
Are you taking novelties to FIHAV 2017?
ProCuba is presenting in this Havana International Trade Fair the second edition of the Commercial Directory of the Republic of Cuba, which groups together all the Cuban import and export enterprises, with their respective data files and a synthesis of productive or exportable sectors, a compendium that facilitates being able to directly communicate with the Cuban negotiating or marketing groups from abroad. Unprecedentedly, in 2015 we launched the first Directory, the only one of its kind made in Cuba.
In FIHAV we are also launching the ProCuba portal, which will have three sites: Investing in Cuba, Cuba Exports and the institutional, which includes all of MINCEX’s information. Whoever wants to invest will have the Law, the regulations and the Opportunities Portfolio at their fingertips, and those who want to export will have the Commercial Directory and How to Do Business with Cuba.
Perspectives and future projections…
In terms of perspectives, ProCuba is in a second action plan; there was a first one between 2013-2016 that allowed us to re-launch the center and now we are going through the 2016-2019 action plan, in which we are going to implement a system of technological vigilance, continue perfecting the topics of commercial intelligence and perfecting the work of market researches and studies, not just the internal, but also with Cuban consultancies. We have already had some meetings for this, with a view to achieving a common methodology and procedures to carry our these studies in Cuba; we are making progress in that, we have excellent relations with the Cuban consultancy houses, and that will have a bearing on a better quality of the contracts to make market or economic feasibility studies which those consultancy houses concert with foreign investors.
Principal services offered by ProCuba
Selective Dissemination of Information: news bulletins and information about foreign trade, collaboration and foreign investment.
Information Center: Room services or by email and personalized alert.
Markets: Market, tendencies and opportunities studies and country profiles.
Training and consultancy: Directed at business opportunities, market research and commercial intelligence systems and trainings (Learn-Doing).
Promotion: Edition of Exportable goods and services offer, Commercial Directory and the magazine Mercado; representation of enterprises in international fairs.
ProCuba’s Work Groups
Market Research Group. Identifies business opportunities and makes analyses of the situations of the international market with an incidence on Cuban foreign trade.
Commercial Information Group. Manages the commercial information that facilitates identifying foreign trade and foreign investment opportunities.
Communication and Image Promotion Group. Promotes foreign trade opportunities according to the policies and strategies.
Foreign Investment Promotion Group. Promotes business opportunities with foreign investment according to the approved policies.
Countries with whose respective equivalent centers ProCuba has agreements and collaboration ties
Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Peru, Brazil, France, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Panama, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Portugal, Barbados, Dominica, St. Kitts-Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago and Italy.
Calle 10 No. 512 e/ 31 y 5ta Ave. Playa, La Habana, Cuba
512 10th St. 31st and 5th Av.
Tel.: (+53) 7 214 4340 al 42 / 7 214 4345
Facebook: cepecuba / Twitter: pro_cuba