Eurasian Economic Union May Set Up SEZ In Cuba

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Cuba has proposed that the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) create an industrial park on the island, the bloc stated on Friday (September 2). The initiative has been discussed during a recent virtual meeting of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EAEC), the executive body of the EAEU bloc, which consists of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.

The proposed industrial park may be created in Cuba’s special economic zone, Mariel, on a 50-hectare (123-acre) plot of land. Cuba has proposed lending the plot for 50 years to the EAEU, with prospects to prolong the deeds, the group revealed.

Goar Barsegyan, a Director of the Integration Development Department of the EAEC, said “The initiative of the Republic of Cuba to create an EAEU industrial park in the Mariel SEZ is potentially attractive. Firstly, creation of such park would make the Cuban market more accessible for companies from the EAEU nations and create a new launchpad for entering the markets of other Latin American countries.”

Brazil, while not a member of the EAEU, is a member of the BRICS grouping and has become close to Russia in trade, while several other LatAm countries have expressed interest in Free Trade Agreements with the EAEU. Cuba, for its part, is a member of the Caricom bloc, which also includes Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, while there have been calls for it to rejoin the Latin American Mercosur Free Trade bloc.

Under the proposed deal, the EAEU will be able to set up manufacturing at the industrial park, make direct investments, strike up deals and conduct overall management of the installation on its own. Several companies from Russia and Belarus are already represented at the Mariel zone and have a “positive experience” working at the Cuban market, the EAEC noted.

“This is a tangible opportunity to work more actively in the Cuban market, not only for companies from Belarus and Russia, which are traditionally represented there, but also for firms from other EAEU countries, should they be interested. All in all, this is a comprehensive mechanism for deepening trade and economic ties between the EAEU countries and Cuba,” Barsegyan concluded.

Cuba has been actively cooperating with the EAEU for several years already, becoming a full-fledged observer at the EAEU in 2020. It goes without saying that Cuba has been under US sanctions prohibiting the provision of all products except foods and medicines to the island since 1960, meaning that it is easier and less expensive to purchase Cuban cigars in Moscow than it is in Washington.

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