Cuba builds communism-free zone to woo capitalist businesses

NBC News has posted a Global Post Article, with the above title:

The following are edited quotes from the Article. 

“President Raul Castro’s government is building its own version of a Chinese-style economic zone on the banks of the Mariel Bay, 30 miles west of Havana, ….”

Within “a 180 square-mile special economic zone, Cuban planners have envisioned a global capitalist enclave where foreign companies can install manufacturing plants, research centers and operational hubs.”

“The zone would lure foreign businesses with the guarantee of a 10-year tax holiday and virtually unfettered freedom to import raw materials and repatriate profits. The Cuban government began accepting bids from international investors this month.”

The government supposedly will guaranty “that property within the special zone cannot be expropriated -- a necessary assurance on an island where billions worth of foreign assets were nationalized after Fidel Castro’s 1959 Revolution.
Cuban trade officials say investors from Russia, China, Vietnam, Germany, Spain, Japan, Mexico and Brazil have expressed interest.”

Skeptics “doubt international investors will choose to put their money on the island when they could go to another country like the Dominican Republic, which has lower labor costs and an established track record for manufacturing. The Mariel project’s promoters say it will be the Caribbean’s biggest shipping port once completed, but other cities in the region are likely to catch up.”

“Another big disincentive: the long-standing US trade sanctions, which ban Cuban imports and prohibit ships that stop on the island from calling at US ports for six months.”

“Cuba is offering investors 50-year contracts and 100 percent ownership of their businesses, duty-free imports and virtually zero taxes for the first decade of operation.
Raul Castro’s government has cast the Mariel project primarily as a job-creation program. It’s looking to slash the number of Cuban workers employed by the state, and the island’s economy desperately needs new sources of employment, not to mention technology and training. Still, doubts linger about the types of industries that would see Cuba as an attractive site for export-driven manufacturing, since the island’s labor force has little experience with modern assembly plants or advanced technology.”

“[C]ompanies may be discouraged by Cuban laws that prohibit them from hiring workers directly, making them go through a government agency instead.”

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