Spanish and French trade officials head for Cuba
Spain’s Secretary of Commerce, Jaime García-Legaz, will travel to Cuba in mid-April at the head of a trade delegation that includes the chairman of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, José Luis Bonet, and the vice chairman of Spanish Federation of Business Organizations (CEOE), Joaquín Gay de Montellá, the Spanish newspaper ABC reported Thursday (March 5). García-Legaz’s office functions under the Ministry of the Economy.
That report comes on the same day that France’s Secretary of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Matthias Fekl, arrives in Havana at the head of a 17-member trade delegation for a four-day stay. Reportedly, Fekl is in Cuba to prepare the way for the arrival May 11 of French President François Hollande.
Fekl is scheduled to meet with the Cuban ministers of Foreign Trade and Foreign Relations, as well as the president of the National Bank of Cuba and Tourism Ministry officials.
García-Legaz’s trip is made at the request of Spanish companies doing business in Cuba that are “interested in gaining support from [their] government to improve their working conditions on the island,” ABC reports.
Most of the Spanish companies in Cuba operate in the tourism sector, the newspaper points out. Ninety percent of the four- and five-star hotels are run by Spanish corporations.
García-Legaz plans to meet with business authorities in the Cuban government and representatives of the Association of Spanish Businessmen, an umbrella group for 230 companies, ABC reports.
According to the newspaper, the Spanish businessmen’s concerns include the upcoming currency consolidation, the role of the Cuban state in the hiring of workers, the repatriation of hard currency, and the role of Cuban self-employed entrepreneurs in international trade.
ABC indicates that “some Spanish banking institutions have already fixed their sights on Cuba to explore the possibility of operating there.” It did not name them.