15 Investment Opportunities In Cuba

There are fifteen sectors of the Cuban economy which are open to foreign investment. This article will list those opportunities, along with additional information about their current status. These opportunities are classified as "priority", "open", or "limited".

Priority: Oil and Gas

Exploiting offshore reserves is called a "key strategic priority", and companies in this sector can expect expedited handling of their requests. Sherritt International (Canada) and Venezuelan PdVSA are two of the companies that are already there.

Priority: Agriculture (including sugar)

Current investors in this area include citrus fruit and potato growers. The Cuban authorities are especially interested in Ethanol production, calling the development of ethanol plants a "major priority".

Priority: Banking and Finance

There is an overwhelming need for both project and infrastructure debt financing. Citing high returns over the past few years, Cuba calls this "a major strategic area."

Open: Tourism

Foreign groups currently operate about 44% of Cuba's hotel rooms. If the US travel ban is lifted, Cuban officials expect a huge influx of US tourists. Cubans generally prefer to work with larger companies and those willing to build outside the Havana area.

Open: Investment Funds

Funds with existing investments in Cuba include Leisure Canada, Celba Finance, and Coral Capital.

Open: Light Industry

Current JVs include bus assembly, paper, cosmetics, and soft drinks. Opportunities for foreign investment are open in this area especially in the priorities areas of glass, paint and tires.

It has been speculated that if the US lifts its trade embargo with Cuba, the island nation will become the latest to benefit from US manufacturers seeking lower labor costs. This could be an interesting development to monitor in the coming years,

Open: Biotech

This sector has garnered a lot of attention since the mid 90s, with current investors including GlaxoSmithKline and YMB.

Open: Software Development

A new software export industry began in 2002 and has resulted in several agreements. Cuba is also interested in outsourcing software development with a Spanish component.

Open: Mining

Several projects are at various stages of development, including gold, silver, and lead.

Open: Representation Offices

There are hundreds of representation offices in Cuba, including Hyundai, Kia, Audi, and Peugeot. Again, the Cuban government prefers larger offices, and may impose minimum revenue quotas/

Limited: Heavy Industry

Cuba has one of the world's largest nickel reserves, and is open to investors in steel and cement plants as well.

Limited: Telecom

Telecom Italia owns shares in ETECSA, Cuba's sole provider of fixed, mobile, and internet communications in Cuba.

Limited: Tobacco

There are currently foreign investors in Cuba's tobacco industry and Habanos/Altadis are always looking for worldwide franchisees.

Very Limited: Real Estate

Opportunities in the residential real estate market are very limited due to saturation of the market by other foreign investors who aren't interested in selling.