Business / Economy

China's special economic zone instructive to Cuba's future reform

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-07-07 14:53

HAVANA - China's first and most successful special economic zone (SEZ) in southern coastal city Shenzhen is instructive for Cuba as it develops its own SEZ, a senior Cuban official said.

To that end, Shenzhen and Havana have decided to spur cooperation as the Caribbean island moves to open up its economy, in part by building an SEZ at the port of Mariel, about 50 km west of the capital.

"The great success Shenzhen has achieved in the past three decades was very encouraging for us," Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, vice president of Cuba's Council of Ministers, said while meeting with visiting Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin.

The Mariel port development, of which the first phase was inaugurated in January 2014, aims to attract foreign investment through tax breaks and modern facilities with the latest technologies and managerial experience, similar to Shenzhen's approach three decades ago, when China began its reform and opening up.

The establishment of the Shenzhen SEZ in south China's Guangdong province was approved by China's top legislature in 1980.

After three decades of fast development, the once tiny fishing village of just over 30,000 people has grown into a modern metropolis as one of the country's gateways to the outside world, and south China's high-tech and manufacturing hub.

Cabrisas, who has visited Shenzhen on several occasions, said Shenzhen's success is very instructive and can provide valuable experience for Cuba.

Chinese Ambassador to Cuba Zhang Tuo noted Shenzhen has ample experience to share with Cuba in the area of reform and opening up, while for Shenzhen, Cuba is not only a market full of opportunities, but also essential to a greater Latin American market due to its unique geographical position in the Gulf of Mexico.

A Shenzhen delegation led by Xu visited Havana on June 30 and July 1 to mark the 10th anniversary of their sister city relationship, and to further strengthen cooperation in several key fields, including investment, biotechnology, public transportation and infrastructure.

Highlighting the long time friendship between the two cities, Xu said the two sides should further enhance win-win cooperation in high-tech areas, such as biotechnology, renewable energy and telecommunications to better serve the peoples of two countries and jointly explore the international market.

During the visit, Shenzhen-based battery maker and electric vehicle producer BYD has won its biggest order since it entered the Cuban market last year: 719 gasoline-powered cars.

The vehicles will be used for car rental service as the island's tourism industry expects more overseas tourists in coming years, especially from the United States.

Cabrisas said he was impressed by BYD's solar power generating and storage system, and invited company chairman Wang Chuanfu to visit Cuba again to further discuss the details of cooperation on solar power with local government bodies.

Noting that Cuba is home to world famous bio-tech research institutions, Xu said biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry have been the pillars of the island's economy. They are strategic emerging industries with great prospects, Xu said.

Shenzhen, home to one of China's most advanced biotechnology industries, will use its advantages in research into gene sequencing and stem cells, as well as medical devices, to promote cooperation with Cuba, Xu said.

The delegation met with Dr Carlos Manuel Gutierrez Calzado, president of BioCubaFarma, the biggest biotechnology and pharmaceutical group in Cuba, to discuss the details of further cooperation.

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