April 2, 2013 19:00
Cuba on Tuesday unveiled rules for its first free trade manufacturing
zone, a vast $900 million project being paid for mostly by Brazil in the port of Mariel near Havana.
The Mariel Special Development Zone, a major trial balloon being
floated by President Raul Castro's government, is slated to
feature manufacturing operations both for export and for the Cuban
market, as well as a megaport that would take over shipping now done in
The government on Tuesday published a legal decree in the Official Gazette detailing rules for the area and its operations.
Brazilian multinational Odebrecht is handling the infrastructure on
the project, and Brazil is providing $640 million in financing, with
Cuba handling the rest.
Castro, 81, has taken steps to modernize some elements of the
economy, such as trimming state payrolls and allowing more types of
self-employment, but the state remains firmly in control of most
It was not immediately clear when manufacturing in the new free trade
zone would begin, but some port operations will start this month.