Mitsubishi Corp says scouting for Cuba infrastructure projects

Fri Jul 8, 2016 10:56pm EDT
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By Sarah Marsh

HAVANA (Reuters) - Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp (8058.T: Quote) is scouting for business opportunities in Cuba including infrastructure projects at its Mariel special development zone, a top executive said on Friday.

Companies from Cuba's long-term trading partners such as Japan have stepped up interest in the Communist-ruled island since its detente with Washington, seeking to win investment projects before their U.S. competitors turn up.

"We are trying to find new business opportunities to establish some infrastructure projects ... as well as new trading opportunities," Mitsuyuki Takada, Senior Vice President of Mitsubishi Corp Global Strategy, told Reuters on the sidelines of the launch of the firm's new Havana office.

Local authorities had shown Takada and other visiting Mitsubishi executives around the Chinese-style special development zone at Mariel Bay earlier on Friday.

Cuba launched the zone, centered around a new container terminal, two-and-a-half years ago in a bid to become a shipment hub and spur new industrial projects. It offered investors significant tax and customs breaks.

Takada said the island had a strategic location at the center of the Caribbean and close to the United States, and stood to benefit from increased traffic through the renovated Panama Canal.

"From a logistics point of view, the Caribbean market has a big potential to grow," he said.

Mariel is part of a broader government drive in recent years to attract more investment to Cuba to spur economic growth.   Continued...

The logo of Mitsubishi Corporation is displayed at the entrance of the company headquarters building in Tokyo, Japan, April 26, 2016.   REUTERS/Issei Kato