HAVANA TIMES — Cuban authorities issued new rules on Tuesday to regulate the special economic zone around the port of Mariel, west of the capital, seeking to boost foreign investment and the nation’s depressed economy.
The establishment of the Mariel Special Development Zone seeks to “attract foreign investment ” and “generate exports and encourage import substitution,” according to the text published in the Official Gazette of Cuba.
The government of President Raul Castro had already announced last Thursday the approval by the Council of State of the new laws for Mariel.
The laws grant tax benefits starting November to companies working in the economic zone around the port, about 465 square kilometers. Among them are a tax exemption on their labor force, and on profits, for a ten year period.
Companies operating in the area do not have to pay taxes on sales or services for the first 12 months of operations. Also planned is the duty-free entry of “means, equipment and goods imported for purposes of investment in the area,” the statement said.
The legal framework for the special economic zone enter into force on November 1, states the Official Gazette .
The port of Mariel, which shot to fame by the mass exodus of Cubans to the United States in 1980, has been for recent years in the enlargement process. The mega-project situated about 45 kilometers west of Havana is being carried out largely with financial support from Brazil.
The government of Dilma Rousseff participates in the construction projects with a credit of US $680 million dollars. The “Mariel project” is one of the biggest hopes of the government of Raul Castro to revive the island’s ailing economy.
“In this territory will create all the necessary infrastructure for the promotion of industry and foreign investment “, announced in early 2012 an official regarding construction of the industrial area between the bays of Mariel and Cabañas.
According to initial plans, the future commercial terminal should have a capacity of receiving three million containers a year.