Pretoria - Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Mzwandile Masina is in Havana as head of a delegation of 35 South African businesspeople seeking trade and investment opportunities in Cuba.
Twenty of the companies will participate in the 33rd Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV) starting on Monday, while the rest will engage on a programme aimed at exploring opportunities for partnerships and joint-ventures in the Cuban economy.
Last year the fair attracted more than 1 000 companies from 46 countries. This year more than 70 countries have confirmed their participation.
According to Masina, the participation of the South African companies in FIHAV will provide an excellent platform for them to identify trade opportunities in various sectors of the Cuban economy. These include agro-processing pharmaceuticals bio technology Information and Communication Technology, renewable energy, electro-technical, chemical, construction, hospitality and geo-mining sectors.
Masina said the investment mission to Cuba, the first to be undertaken by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), follows the seminar on Doing Business in Cuba that the department hosted in Pretoria last month.
Companies participating in FIHAV and investment mission have been funded by the dti through its Export Marketing and Investment Assistance Scheme (EMIA). The purpose of the scheme is to assist companies develop export markets for SA products and services, identify new export markets through market research, increase the levels of direct investment in priority sectors, and increase export market access for South African manufacturing and service companies.
The group of South African businesspeople in Cuba expressed optimism that their mission, which is led by Masina, will yield positive results and enable them to gain market access in the Caribbean country.
Brian Naidoo of Microfinish said he is relishing the opportunity of opening a new market in Cuba for his Pinetown-based company’s automotive components.
Lucy Klein of the Pretoria-based Tintswalo Project Managers said her trip follows a meeting she held with a representative of the Cuban tourism agency in September. The meeting was part of the business-to-business interaction organised by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) during the inward Cuban mission that the department organised.
Durban-based Rock Solid Industries’ Stuart Quenipel said his company’s main objective is to find agents who can sell the canopies that his company is manufacturing.
Felix Tjaone of a Boksburg company, Bradbri, said he hosted a Cuban delegation representing the sugar milling, automotive and mining industries during their visit to SA in September.
Owen Maroleni said he is confident his company, Delberg Engineering will be able to participate in the Cuban’s oil and gas exploration industry by forming joint ventures with other stakeholders operating in the field. Shaweni Consulting Engineers’ Mr Fedisang Shabalala hopes to find a stake for his company in Cuba’s infrastructure development projects.