Those interested in doing business with Cuba in the field of non-traditional products can now look at new options such as the local production of ethanol, better known as alcohol, which is currently being used around the world as car fuel in a mixture with gasoline in an effort to lower gasoline costs and reduce environmental pollution.
Ethanol is a non-aggressive renewable fuel that helps reduce oil imports, says Jos� Rivera Ortiz, director of the Cuban business society ZERUS, in charge of the development and supervision of business and investment projects in the Cuban Sugar sector. Ethanol is at the center of efforts to secure new business deals as part of transformations underway in the sugar industry, he pointed out.
Rivera Ortiz told Opciones business magazine that any efforts by foreign and Cuban entrepreneurs to jointly produce ethanol in Cuba, must first look at guaranteeing financial and technological resources needed to boost sugar cane production as the necessary raw material for the advancement of ethanol projects.
ZERUS Society was formerly known as Quiminaz, a company created in 1997 from the association of Mexico’s Zuker and Quimizuk S.A. enterprise. It adopted its new name following a group of measures adopted in 2005 aimed at having the business group control, supervise and develop new projects involving foreign investment in the sugar sector and the development of labor in enterprises linked to that economic field.
ZERUS’ director pointed out that the company is working hard to achieve new business deals in the context of restructuring the sector, which now focuses on the design of national programs aimed at meeting national sugar consumption and favoring commercial activity, as well as contributing to food plans and labor force development.
The Cuban sugar industry is more than 500 years old, said the executive, and is one of Cuba’s traditional sectors with an appropriate infrastructure for its current production. He pointed out that Cuba’s Foreign Investment Law offers significant benefits to those who decide to set up joint enterprises with the island, whose human resources are skilled enough to successfully undertake just any kind of task.
Rivera Ortiz explained that foreign capital can operate in all areas of the Cuban Sugar Ministry according to the modalities established by Cuban law and that ZERUS has the legal force to subscribe to agreements for international economic associations.
As part of the restructuring of the Sugar sector some 1,7 million hectares of land, formerly dedicated to growing sugar cane, are being used to develop different agricultural products for the internal market, to boost forests and fruit trees as well as other agricultural activities, said the executive, and noted that all those areas may assimilate different modalities of foreign capital association.
Alcohol production could become a significant option in our sector, said the executive and recalled that the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation has already approved an economic association project to produce alcohol in Cuba.
“We think that not only traditional sugar-derived productions, like syrups and other derivatives, are important sources for concerting business deals with foreign capital, since new projects in the forestry field, in the production of food may also be of interest for joint action.”, said the executive.
“With that strategy in mind, we continue to undertake new initiatives aimed at having the renewed sugar sector make the historic contribution it has always made to the development of the Cuban economy”.
Some countries already have experience using alcohol or ethanol as car fuel,. Brazil, for instance, developed the initiative with the construction of more than five million cars which were fueled with alcohol in 1990. At present that South American nation has the know-how to produce cars that can use either gas or alcohol or any mixture of the two.
Meanwhile, countries like Canada, the United States, China, Australia, Colombia, Peru and Thailand, have been using gas mixed with 10 percent of ethanol as car fuel. The use of up to 10 percent alcohol in that mixture does not require modification in car parts or engines. However, using more than that amount would require certain modifications.
Other countries like Paraguay, India, Sweden, South Africa and Japan have been mixing gas with less than 10 percent of alcohol as car fuel over the past years, while many countries in Europe and Asia have been studying the introduction of ethanol in the transport sector.
Cuba, a traditional producer of sugar and its derivatives, has a large potential in the field, particularly when oil prices are rising on the international market and the world demands greater environment protection efforts.