Rob Sequin | Havana Journal
Photos by SRM
This year’s 27th annual International Business Fair at ExpoCuba in Havana, better known as FIHAV, was held in early November and was covered by several news reporting agencies from inside and outside of Cuba. We also had our own correspondent covering the Fair.
This article is a compilation of information from a variety of sources including Granma, Radio Guantanamo, Xinhua and others. For more information on FIHAV in general visit Feria Havana, Hotel Palco or MINREX the Cuban business ministry.
This Fair is the largest national business trade show in Cuba where businesses and entrepreneurs meet with Cuban and Cuba related businesses, where contracts are negotiated and signed and products and services are promoted.
Apparently the food and health sectors were the most represented industries among the 111 Cuban businesses exhibiting their products and services. Geocuba, a variety of scientific institutions, Molinos de Regla and Union Suchel (shampoos, gels and soaps)were just a few of the Cuban businesses that were featured in the Central Pavilion. Legendario Rum, Havana Club Rum, Grupo Empresarial Boga (retail clothes), Labiofam (Biogenetic products and vaccines) and Tauro the Spaniard-Cuban Meats Group had large trade show booths. Habanos had their traditional trade show booth (the same they presented during last year´s Habanos Festival - International Cubana de Tabacos) where they sold Minis and the machine made Cuban cigar brand Guantanamera.
The vice-president of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, Odalis Seijo, said the Fair “is characterized by a significant participation of experts from 54 nations and 46 chambers of commerce from Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia”. Countries such as Venezuela, South Africa, Mexico (Grupo ALTEX-IMSA and Casa Díaz and Stemsa Comercial), Germany (MCV Commercial), Holland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Republic of Korea and Russia were represented. Over twelve hundred companies from fifty four countries were in attendance featuring almost four thousand exhibitors.
American Companies in Cuba
There were several American companies present, mostly in the food and agriculture industries; USA Rice Federation, ABC Charters, Cargill, Butterball, Country Barn, Florida Produce, Crimson Shipping, Tyson Foods, Nielsen Citrus, Koch Foods but Gulfstream Air Charters was also there.
China Business in Cuba
China advertised machinery mostly with Hafei Motor LTD, Haier Electrical Appliances Corp and Jiangsu Cereals Oils & Foodstuffs. Chinese news service Xinhua reported that China had the third largest presence at the Fair after Spain and Canada. China had 15 companies organized by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). Haier, the Chinese electrical appliance company presented its liquid screens, DVD players, washing machines and solar heaters. Li Dandan, Haier’s representative, told Xinhua that “the Fair is an excellent opportunity to promote Chinese products.”
Meanwhile, another Chinese appliance company, Konka, offered its latest television sets and audio equipment. The home appliance company AUX, which specializes in air conditioners was present along with Chinese car makers, pharmaceutical and food processing companies. With a yearly trade volume of 2.3 billion U.S. dollars, China is Cuba’s second largest commercial partner, coming only after Venezuela. China is Cuba’s biggest Asian supplier of capital and consumer goods ranging from buses and machinery to electrical appliances.
Contracts and Awards
Cuba has signed trade contracts worth approximately $150 million at the Havana Trade Fair, according to Abraham Maciques, president of the organizing committee for FIHAV 2009. As part of these agreements, Cuba agreed to license drilling rights to Russia for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation.
From Cuba, the Special Aged Havana Club Rum, produced by Havana Club International, and the 15-year-old Aged Arrecha Rum, from Unión de Bebidas y Refrescos, won one gold medal each.
At the ceremony, Cuban and foreign companies received prizes for different categories. Cuba received 10 gold medals for the quality of its products. Others awarded included the Panama stand, the Russian and Brazilian pavilions, and the Cuban company ETECSA, which won the grand prize for integral communication. Spain was the most-represented country and Sri Lanka, the country which participated for the first time.
The award for the best companies went to Braves Sausage (VELA) Coralina hydroxyapatite HAP-200, ocular implant of Dalmer Laboratories SA, Almond Sensation Nestle Ice Cream, Coralac Group SA; surfactant base TETRASURF for textile wash and Aroma de Cáliz moisturizer cream, both of Suchel Company SA.
Also this award was given to Gely hypocaloric Jell, of Coracán company SA; Special Aged Rum Havana Club, 15 years Arecha Aged Rum, the Beverage and Soft Drinks Company of Pinar del Rio, GECASEL super plasticizers accelerator additive for concrete, the Construction Business Group, and the Elevadores Cometal.
Presiding over the ceremony were Commander of the Revolution Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, vice president of the Council of Ministers and minister of informatics and communications, and Yadira García Vera, minister of basic industry, both members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party; Ricardo Cabrisas, vice president of the Council of Ministers, and Rodrigo Malmierca, minister of foreign trade and investment.
The last day was open to the public who arrived in mass despite the foul weather avidly looking for some freebies from the booths that remained. Rum samples, cigars and plenty of colorful brochures were available. The food court offered hot dogs, ice cream, pizza and meat and rice dishes.
FIHAV 2010 will be held from November first through the sixth of next year.
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