The high representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs, the Spanish Josep Borrell, reaffirmed this Thursday the support of the community bloc for the MSMEs and the private entrepreneurs of Cuba.
“We are here to offer you our cooperation,” Borrell told a group of representatives of the Cuban private sector at a meeting held this morning at the Estudio 50 artistic space, in his first public act after his arrival to the island.
In his opening words to the forum “Mipymes. Emprendiendo Juntos”, organized by the EU delegation in Cuba, the diplomat supported private businessmen, whom he considered “an increasingly important actor in the Cuban economy”.
“You are the yeast that will make the dough rise and change the economic structure of your country,” he told the entrepreneurs, whom he saluted for their “ability and courage to undertake.”
In addition, he confirmed the will of the EU to “accompany the economic opening process” of Cuba, of which MSMEs are a part, “from mutual respect”, through the existing Cooperation Agreement.
“We want to collaborate with the institutions in Cuba so that there is a better regulatory framework, which allows encouraging innovation, facilitating the creation and registration of a company, administrative and tax procedures, access to financing, and alliances with other companies. , to take advantage of their talent and creativity”, he assured the private businessmen.
In this regard, Borrell referred to a community fund of 14 million euros, “with which we can help them (entrepreneurs) to be better businessmen, to better understand the techniques needed to conceive a company and put it into operation. march, so that your initiatives are successful“.
“The people of Cuba have tremendous talent and the opportunities for business development are enormous,” added the diplomat, who opined that “Cuba could be and I am sure it will end up being the Mallorca of the Caribbean, a place where private initiative has achieved transform the socioeconomic reality”.
In this morning’s meeting, two panels were also held: one on the current situation and challenges of MSMEs in Cuba, and another on the actions and support programs for Cuban entrepreneurs, carried out by the EU and some of its Member states. Economists, academics, businessmen and representatives of European entities and countries participated in them.
Cuba and the EU
During his words, the high representative of the EU also highlighted the place of the community bloc in the island’s economy, at a time when Cuba is going through a severe economic crisis and the entire planet is feeling the impact of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Borrell highlighted the role of the EU as the Caribbean country’s first trading partner, with around a third of the island’s foreign trade, far ahead of other players such as Russia and China. Also, his role as “the main actor in development aid to Cuba, with almost 100 million euros during these years.”
Likewise, he highlighted the position of the block as the second source of tourists to the island, only behind Canada, and also as the first investor in Cuba “despite the restrictive measures of the blockade that do not make things exactly easy.”
These data, he said, reflect the historical links between the island and the Old Continent, and also the “will to permanence and support” of the entire EU for relations with Cuba.
Finally, the high representative of the EU announced the next celebration, possibly “before the end of the year”, of a dialogue between both parties on human rights.
This is a subject that they have already discussed on other occasions, and which has as a backdrop the pronouncements of NGOs, politicians and institutions such as the European Parliament on their situation in Cuba, especially as a result of the massive protests of July 2021.
These statements by Josep Borrell take place shortly before the celebration, this Friday in Havana, of the Third Cuba-EU Joint Council, since the signing at the end of 2016 of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (ADPC) between both parties.
In addition, during his visit to the island, it is expected that he will be received by the highest Cuban authorities and participate in other activities.