Cuba and France assess development projects

Cuban and French officials on Wednesday held an initial meeting in Havana to define potential investment projects French companies could carry out on the Communist-ruled island.

Cuban and French officials on Wednesday held an initial meeting in Havana to define potential investment projects French companies could carry out on the Communist-ruled island.

Financing for the projects is to come from a 231-million-euro ($252-million) fund stemming from the renegotiation of Cuba’s debt with France.

The meeting of the Strategic Orientation Committee was chaired by Cuban Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca and French Secretary of State for Foreign Trade and Tourism Promotion Matthias Fekl.

Malmierca said visits by French President François Hollande to Cuba in May 2015 and Cuban President Raul Castro to France in December “created the political conditions for progress in the economic realm.”

Fekl, for his part, said the deal struck between Cuba and the Paris Club in December 2015 was “very positive” for all parties involved because 14 rich creditor nations forgave accrued interest, service charges and penalties dating back to the 1980s in exchange for investment opportunities on the island.

The French Development Agency, which plans to finance a livestock production project in the central province of Camaguey before year’s end, opened an office Tuesday in Havana to channel a portion of those investments.

Fekl stressed French companies’ interest in investing in strategic sectors on the island, including tourism, agribusiness and agriculture, renewable energies and health care.

Cuban authorities also have granted licenses to two French companies – construction group Bouygues and Aeroports de Paris – for a project to modernize, expand and operate Havana’s international airport, a key project in meeting the demands of the island’s tourism boom.

Pernod-Ricard, AccorHotels, Total, Alstom, Air France and other companies already operate in Cuba.

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