Ministers Jordi Baiget and Josep Rull lead a trade mission to Panama and Cuba with 49 Catalan companies

22 Nov 2016

   • The mission, starting this Sunday and lasting until the following Friday, is organised by Catalonia Trade & Investment and the Port of Barcelona, and counts on companies from sectors such as agriculture, biopharma, food and drink, tourism, infrastructures,     logistics and waste. 

    • The Catalan companies will hold over 300 individual and scheduled meetings with local companies and will undergo market prospection via meetings with Cuban and Panamanian government and chamber of commerce representatives. 

    • The Ministers will hold institutional meetings to strengthen trade relationships between these countries and Catalonia; and will also visit the Catalan business community found in Panama and Cuba.

Barcelona, November 16, 2016.- The Minister for Business and Knowledge, Jordi Baiget, and the Minister of Territory and Sustainability, Josep Rull, are heading a trade mission to Panama and Cuba starting this Sunday, and which will have the presence of 49 Catalan companies. The trip, lasting until the following Friday, is jointly organised by Catalonia Trade & Investment – the public agency of business competitiveness – and the Port of Barcelona. It is also supported by the General Council of the Catalan Chambers of Commerce. The mission aims to undertake market prospection and take advantage of new business opportunities available there.

On one hand, 24 companies (agriculture, biopharma, food, tourism, and infrastructure) will follow Catalonia Trade & Investment’s agenda headed by Minister Baiget. On the other, 25 companies (import-export, logistics and waste sectors) will be part of the delegation headed by the Minister Rull and led by the Port of Barcelona. Both missions have coincided, creating the largest ever mission organized in these countries made by Catalan companies. You can see the name and description of each company here. 

During the trip, beginning in Panama and continuing on to Cuba, these companies will hold over 300 individual meetings that were previously scheduled with other Cuban and Panamanian companies. Furthermore, the business delegation will visit the expansion of the Panama Canal and will participate in two sessions with local companies organized by the Panama Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba, the most important business institutions of both countries. The companies in the biopharma sector will also participate in a technical seminar in Cuba’s Centre for Genetics Engineering and Biotechnology – one of the most important research groups in the country – to see the Cuban innovation ecosystem first-hand. 

As well as accompanying the companies during the trip, the Ministers will hold institutional meetings aimed at strengthening trade relations between these countries and visit the Catalan business community present in Panama and Cuba. The institutional delegation also counts on the presence of the Director General of Industry, Nuria Betriu, and the president of the Port of Barcelona, Sixte Cambra, among others. 

Panama, Central America’s trade platform 

With a population of 3.7 million and an area of 75,000 km2, Panama’s economy grew 5.8% last year. It is Central America’s richest country and, with the expansion of the Panama Canal, it is expected to become one of the world’s main international trade hubs. This circumstance therefore entails investment by the government in transport links and the need for new advanced logistics services, potential areas for Catalan companies. Its market imports virtually all types of products but in recent years importation of capital goods and construction machinery has risen, due to the growth of this sector. In fact, construction – both residential, industrial and commercial – generates an annual expenditure of more than 5,000 million dollars and represents 16% of GDP. 

Besides the business opportunities for Catalan companies presented by this sector, the tourism industry in Panama is also one of the access points for Catalan companies. The tourism sector grew 3% in 2015 and the Panamanian government has created a comprehensive development plan to improve road infrastructure and hotels. Thus, the market presents business opportunities for companies in sectors such as food, drink, kitchenware, uniforms and furniture, management systems and technologies, tourism consulting services, equipment, and furniture for hotels and restaurants. There are currently 1,208 Catalan companies exporting to Panama, with exports last year reaching a value of 92.5 million euros. 

Strengthening the historic links between Catalonia and Cuba 

In the case of Cuba, the Catalan companies will investigate the market and explore business opportunities in the context of the Foreign Investment Act and Investment Opportunities Portfolio, which outline the country's needs for the coming years. In this regard, this highlights the auxiliary industry for transport infrastructures and building materials with the aim of modernizing roads, reconstruction of industrial zones and rehabilitation of old buildings, for example. Similarly, it is estimated that tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the near future, with opportunities both in terms of infrastructures and for the food industry and the agricultural sector. Thus, the aim is that Catalan companies continue strengthening the historical bonds created between Catalonia and Cuba in recent decades. In fact, the delegation will visit the Catalan Centre in Havana, opened in 1840. 

Regarding trade, the fact that Catalan exports to Cuba have not stopped growing in recent years is significant, with the highest increase in 2015: with a growth of 50%, reaching 294 million euros. In fact, Cuban-Catalan exports account for 30.5% of total Spanish sales in this country, with more than 1,030 registered Catalan companies exporting there.

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