>>> Interview with H. E. Mrs. Déborah Leticia Ojeda VALEDÓN – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
- Between Romania and Cuba there were and are bilateral relations of mutual respect. However, in recent years, the diplomatic missions in Havana and Bucharest do not distribute public information of great interest. What can you tell us about the current state of bilateral relations? Have new agreements been signed, in which areas, what are the prospects?
-The diplomatic relations between our two countries are 63 years old, although there were contacts long before, back in the XVIII century. Both countries have been working to develop their contacts and exchanges, and last year was a good example for that. In June 2022 the Minister of Higher Education of Cuba along with 13 Rectors of Cuban Universities visited Bucharest. During that visit the Cuban Minister and his Romanian counterpart signed a Cooperation Program on Higher Education and several Agreements between Universities of both sides. Right now, we have a group of PhD students in the beautiful University of Transilvania, thanks to that Program, and is possible that the experience will extent to other Universities. In October 2022 the Romanian Minister of Health, Mr. Alexandru Rafila, visited Cuba and signed with his Cuban homologue, a Cooperation Agreement between the two governments on the field of Health, that we believe is going to be very positive for both of our people. This year, in October we celebrated a round of political consultations at Secretary of State level, that was very positive and useful for the state of our relationship. At the same time, in both capitals, our Embassies have been developing cultural events to increase the presence of our cultures and traditions in the popular knowledge. So, I believe the prospects are good since there is a will on both sides to work further for the strength of our bilateral links.
- How significant are the economic and commercial exchanges between our states? Are there many opportunities for growth? What would these be?
-Unfortunately, the economic exchanges are not significant right now. But it is something that can changes, we are working to overturn that reality and increase the presence of Cuban products here and Romanian products in our Island. Romanians’ companies and business men have been showed an increasingly interest in Cuba and in the possibilities that its economy offers. Some businessman have visited Cuba and starting relations with Cubans companies to exchange products and some other are working to open offices in Cuba in the near future. This year some Romanian businessman participated in the International Fair of Havana, an annual event, that results to be a favorable space for the development of business meetings for those interested in the Cuban Market. We hope Romanian presence in Cuba will increase in the future. There are many opportunities and products that can be interesting for the Romanian market, such as charcoal, several brands of Rum, biotechnology products, to mention those that have been already on the table.
- In Cuba, a real entrepreneurial revolution is taking place, a change in economic policy. Are Romanian entrepreneurs encouraged to invest in Cuba? In what areas?
-Of course, Romanian’s entrepreneurs are welcome in Cuba and we work hard to offer them all the information and necessary contacts to stablish a good connection back there and encourage them to start their business with Cuba. We are open for investments in sectors such important for Cuba as renewable energy, agriculture, biotech mining, oil, tourism, just to mention some of them. Since November this year, there is a new Portfolio of Opportunities for Foreign Investment, where projects we are interested on are listed with details by sector, but this is not the only projects that can be considered and approved. Basically, we will study any other project presented by a foreign counterpart and offer them the conditions to make it work.
Something that may be interesting for the Romanian business community is the so-called Mariel Special Development Zone, the first one of its type in Cuba. This special development zone has been created in 2013 and it is located in a strategically important location, in the center of the Caribbean Sea, at the crossroads of the main maritime commercial traffic routes in the Western Hemisphere. What makes Mariel especially important is that it is a deep-water port and thus has the potential to be used in many ways, including as a cruise port.
ZED Mariel provides a world-class production and logistics platform for the establishment of companies, whose productions and services can be traded in the domestic market or exported. Companies there will benefit from the regulatory framework, special policies incentives and friendly business environment, designed to attract investment in the production of goods and the provision of services with added value, using knowledge and innovation, as well as clean technologies, generating industrial concentration to replace imports, boost exports and generate new sources of employment. https://www.zedmariel.com/en
– Please address a few words for the readers of our publication.
-I would like to encourage the distinguished readers of your publication to learn some more about Cuba, about the possibilities that our beautiful island has to offer, and to contact us or visit Cuba, and become part of the growing and strengthening of the Cuban Romanian relations.
I appreciate the opportunity The Romanian Business Journal has given to our Embassy to share with you this information, and would like to finish wishing you all the best on 2024, and peace and love to our planet.