FIHAV: Big results for local companies
Curaçao definitely scored big at the Feria Internacional de Havana (FIHAV), which was held from October 29 till November 2, 2018. Mr. Clifton Walle, in close cooperation with the Minister of Economic Development, dr. Steven Martina and the Division of International Trade Development of the Ministry of Economic Development, planned this trip and participated at the FIHAV, the biggest commercial trade in the Caribbean.
Mr. Clifton Walle has a broad knowledge of the Cuban economy and visited the FIHAV along with other companies for the first time in 2015. Many local entrepreneurs and companies visited the trade mission this year, for example CATS, CINEX, CPA, KTK, to mention a few. Mr. Walle was approached by the Ministry of Economic Development to arrange this trip because the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) wanted to subsidize the trip for the first time, for qualifying local companies. The selected companies could get up to 50% of the trip costs covered. Walle explained that this particular type of trade mission is very important for Curaçao because it provides the chance to do business with Cuba. “Cuba is the biggest Caribbean island and right now they are changing and opening commercially and politically. This is a perfect opportunity to work on long-lasting partnership and business relations with Cuba”, Walle stated.
He highlighted the prospects for the participating companies. “They have to seize the opportunity and look for their specific contacts and possibilities. But, they always have to keep in mind that doing business with Cuba is different than doing business with other countries. This is because Cuban companies are either partially or completely owned by the state.
This has its benefits because it opens opportunities also on the government level”. Walle is convinced that these types of trade missions are also beneficial since it gives the participants the chance to get in touch with suppliers and business representatives from other countries.
“Our local market is not that big, so it will always be important to look for more business opportunities internationally”. This way of thinking also aligns with one of the goals of the Ministry of Economic Development. Minister Martina continuously emphasizes the importance for local companies to create more export opportunities in order to stimulate the local economy. Some companies are already collecting benefits from their visit to the FIHAV, by signing MOU’s and contracts. The Curaçao oil products distributor Curoil for instance will be one of the fuel distributors on the island of Cuba. There is also Omega Engineering Curaçao (OWAC) which is offering an innovative and convenient cooling technology that can reduce energy costs. Many hotels and other big Cuban companies are interested in using this type of technology.
The Division of Foreign Economic Cooperation of the Ministry of Economic development will keep placing Curaçao strategically on the international market for business opportunities with bigger islands in the region and also to expand their export opportunities not only to Cuba, but more countries around the world.