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Investing in Cuba, a new opportunity for the Portuguese market

| News | Cuban Desk / Tax

Andersen in Spain and Andersen in Portugal jointly organised the event "New horizon for investments in Cuba, new business opportunities for Portugal", to discuss the investment opportunities that are opening in the new context on the island.

Over time, Cuba has become a great option for foreign investment, thanks to the wide diversification of its assets, services and attractions, which allows it to adapt to a large number of sectors. From the most well-known areas such as tourism and real estate, to industry, the agricultural sector, renewable energies or telecommunications, Cuba offers a wide range of options adaptable to many types of investment.

In this context, Andersen in Spain and Andersen in Portugal organised the event "Novo horizonte para o investimento em Cuba, novas oportunidades de negócio para Portugal" to offer a general framework, from an economic and legal perspective, of the investment context in Cuba and what are the main areas, typologies and advantages to invest from Portugal.

The event was attended by Ignacio Aparicio and Adargelio Garrido Andersen Spain Partner and Of Counsel respectively, and members of the firm’s Cuban desk, and José Mota Soares, Tiago Cid y Pedro Mota Soares from Andersen in Portugal. Experts from important Portuguese and Cuban institutions also participated, such as Mercedes Martínez Valdés, Cuban Ambassador to Portugal; Paulo Portas, Vice-President of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIP); Rita Araujo, Administrator of the Portuguese Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade (AICEP); and Pedro Santos, President of the Portugal-Cuba Chamber of Commerce.

José Mota Soares introduced the event and the speakers, thanking everyone for their participation and placing special emphasis on the exceptional nature of the panel, with members of leading Portuguese institutions that maintain a direct relationship with Cuba.

The relationship between the two countries is due to a combination of factors that tend to strengthen relations in all areas, from political exchange, economic support or cultural relations, among others. "In Portugal, Cuba found an open hand to work together and strengthen relations in all areas, to the benefit of both countries," commented Mercedes Martínez.

For Paulo Portas, "there are great reasons for attraction between the two countries, as there is a favourable disposition on both sides as we are living through a time of transition both in Cuba's evolution and in the Western world's relationship with Cuba". Among the various keys to assessing investments, the CCIP Vice-President stressed the importance of credit instruments and the need for their operationalisation.

Despite the pandemic and the major impact it has had on Cuba - such as a reduction in the number of exports - the reality is that there are many opportunities for investment.

"Economic relations are fundamental to create security for any company. It is these companies that need to have instruments for legal security when carrying out any economic activity", explained Rita Araújo in her speech. For all the companies that decide to take the step and invest in Portugal, the possibilities are broad, from the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical sector, agri-food, plastic products or construction, as well as tourism.

For his part, Ignacio Aparicio analysed the options for investing, providing services or selling products. "At the legal level, the regime contemplates four modalities: supply contract, agency contract, branch in Cuba and direct investment", explained the director of Andersen's Cuban desk, who, regarding direct investment, regulated in Cuba's Law 118/2014, added that it contemplates international economic partnership agreement, wholly foreign capital company and joint ventures". Beyond generic investment in Cuba, he referred to the Mariel Special Regime, a space in which an attempt is being made to develop a more sustainable and attractive investment system for foreign capital.

To be attractive, potential investments must include a series of guarantees. These are provided for in the Law 118/2014, which, among other things, stipulates that the benefits granted to foreign investors are maintained throughout the period for which they have been granted, and cannot be expropriated except for justified reasons of public utility or social interest. Adargelio Garrido also included other guarantees contemplated in the Law, such as "the possibility of extending the authorization period granted, the possibility of selling or transferring - to the State, a third party, or other parties - their rights, or the free transfer abroad in convertible currency of the profits from the exploitation of the investment".


Regarding the tax aspects for investment, Tiago Cid explained the possible tax exemptions and regulations to be considered for all those investors from Portugal who wish to carry out operations in Cuba. In particular, he highlighted the existence of an agreement to avoid double taxation on income taxes between Portugal and Cuba and the special regimes provided for in Law 118/2014 and the Mariel Special Regime, which lead to an almost total tax exemption for foreign investment operations in Cuba.

The Cuban market is unique, and many factors must be considered when investing, from its size to its population to its diplomatic relations, in which the US blockade plays an important role. Pedro Santos, in this way, emphasized these elements that make the country special, pointing out that "companies should set the Cuban market as a long-term objective, since it is a large market for Portuguese companies".

Pedro Mota Soares opened the round of debate, thanking everyone once again for the opportunity to offer a seminar of this kind, with a wide variety of perspectives from sectors that are in direct and daily contact with both Portuguese and Cuban institutions, companies and collectives.

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