A reporter for Miami, Florida-based Cuba Standard conducted an interview for the October 2017 issue of the publication with Mrs. Vivian Herrera, General Director of Foreign Trade for the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment of the Republic of Cuba (MINCEX). The following are excerpts from the interview:
I happened to notice that at the Havana Fair there was no representation whatsoever of the “non-state sector” of Cuba’s economy. What are the reasons for this omission?
VH: The non-state sector is supposed to provide a significant contribution to Cuba’s domestic sector, meeting the many shortcomings we face here, but it was never meant to become a component or player in Cuba’s foreign trade.
Meaning that the “non-state sector” will not be tied into Cuba’s foreign trade anytime soon?
VH: Whatever connections there may be today or in the future will be through Cuban state enterprises as suppliers, or middlemen. There won't be any private entities conducting their own foreign trade operations. State enterprises today provide whatever is available as wholesale suppliers, especially to private entities or cooperatives working directly with state businesses. This modusoperandi is currently promoted through territorial fairs across Cuba’s provinces.
Is the export of charcoal made by cooperatives to the United States, via a state enterprise, just a one-off event?
VH: Thus far it has been a one-time exception. There is nothing at hand that might suggest otherwise.
Any message to U.S. businesses?
VH: U.S. business people are encouraged to keep an open mind when approaching Cuba’s trade opportunities and learn from those who have been conducting trade successfully with Cuba over the last quarter of a century, with mutual trust and benefits, with confidence and patience, beyond whatever ups and downs may have emerged at some point. Cuba is a trustworthy and loyal partner- different in many ways, but a sound and reliable partner.