Country Feature on Cuba – Cuba A Market to Discover

Havana, capital and largest city of Cuba


Some statistics and information on Cuba 

Capital of Cuba, largest city of Cuba Havana

Total Area of Cuba – land, water


Total area 109 884.01 km2, 3 136.41 km2 are adjacent cays and 106. 757.60 mainland
Government /Head of State (President of Cuba currently)



President -Miguel Díaz Canel-Bermudez

Prime Minister- Manuel Marrero Cruz


Official Language








Secular state with religious freedom. The distinctive feature of religious belief in Cuba is the mix of multiple creeds and manifestations. None in particular characterizes the Cuban people.


Resources can be found in Cuba





Nickel, cobalt, iron, copper, lead, zinc, gold, silver, manganese, tungsten, and chromium. The country has considerable potential for oil and gas still in development, and a production of more than 3.5 million tons of crude oil and some 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas that covers around 40% of national demand, both energy and fuel.


Main export/import of Cuba




Export: nickel, cigars, rum, organic honey, lobsters tropical fruits, avocados, vegetable coal, medical services and biotechnology products/ import: food products, machinery, chemical products and their derivatives, electronic products and household appliances.
Population, Ethnic Groups



11 209.628 million inhabitants, 64 white, 27 percent mulato (mix of blacks and whites), and about 9 percent are black.


GDP (PPP, Nominal)


112 592 million pesos


Independence Day of Cuba


January 1est, 1959. Triumph of the Revolution


Weather/Temperature in Cuba








Warm tropical. with temperature variations associated with cold fronts, hurricanes, altitude and relief contrasts. Not very rainy (November to April): Known as winter, the variations of weather and climate become more noticeable, with abrupt changes in daily time, associated with the passage of frontal systems. It is more noticeable in the western half than in the eastern half. Rainy (May to October): Known as summer, there are few variations in time, with the most important changes being the passage of eastern waves and tropical cyclones.







The national currency in Cuba is the Cuban Peso (CUP). The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) also circulates, used as a means of exchanging foreign currencies according to officially established exchange rates. Currently, one unit of the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is equivalent to 24 units of the Cuban Peso (CUP). The government is working on the elimination of the dual currency system.
Time Zone




International Calling Code for Cuba




Famous Places of interest in Cuba
















Cuba is one of the countries in the Caribbean that has more Intangible Cultural Heritages recognized by the UNESCO. In Cuba you can find 10 places and cultural expressions, declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

-Camagüey Urban Historic Center

-Cienfuegos Urban Historic Center

-French Tombs

-Alejandro of Humboldt National Park

-Archaeological Landscape of the Firsts Coffee Plantations in the Southeast of Cuba.

-National Park of Landing of Granma

-Valle de Viñales

-Castle San Pedro of the Roca of Santiago de Cuba

-Historic Center of Trinidad and its Valle de los Ingenios

-Historic Center of La Habana Vieja and its system of Colonial Fortifications

Also The beaches of Cuba boast the comfort of a city and the goods of nature. Spots like Varadero, Guardalavaca, Esmeralda, Santa Maria del Mar, Santa Lucia, Ancon, Los Cayos Coco, Guillermo, Largo del Sur, Santa Maria, Las Brujas and Levisa enjoy sunny days all year long.

Cuba A Market to Discover

Cuba and Malaysia established diplomatic relations on February 6, 1976 and since the beginning authorities of both governments foreseen the potential to expand the links to economic sector. The decade of the 90 was fruitful in exchanges of delegations between our countries that were crowned with the visit of the then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1997.  

The signing of three important agreements, at this stage, to promote economic cooperation and scientific-technical collaboration began a higher phase in the relationship that keep going in the time with ups in politics but downs in trade, and today there is an opportunity to make flourish commercial links.

Various Cuban cigars brand

The island of Cuba is also known as “the key of the Gulf” due of its strategic position between North America and South America and in the center of the Caribbean Sea. When talking about Cuba, cigars immediately comes to people’s mind because of its exclusive taste and the fame it has acquired all over the world.

With a population of 11 208 000 millions a labour force on 5 239 922 workers and highly educated make Cuba the ideal place to explore business in Latin America. The country it is consider a virgin market ideal for investors or traders interested in bring their products to the region.

Cuba has an open economy that make it dependant to the external trade, the main imports are machinery, chemical products, animal and vegetable by-products and the exports are based on services like tourism, medical, raw sugar, rum, vegetable coal, seafood, honey, coffee and tobacco.

Despite the above, you may keep asking why Cuba?

Let’s take a look.

In year 2011, Cuba started a process of reforms to update its economic model with the key goals of boosting the economic growth, the establishing a more functional ownership structure and to achieve a more effective integration with the world economy. In this context attracting foreign investment became a key goal for the future development of the island . There were also defining different kind of properties, giving space to the private one for the development of cooperatives.

As part of the transformations in year 2013 it was created Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM) is the first of its type in Cuba designed to contribute to the sustainable economic development in Cuba. The industrial pillars at ZEDM are: logistical services, biotechnology and the drug industry and advanced manufacturing. It is regulated by special regimes and policies, designed to attract investment in the production of goods and the provision of services with added value, using knowledge and innovation, as well as clean technologies, generating industrial concentration to replace imports, boost exports and generate new sources of employment.

The Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM) account at present more than 2.3 billion dollars in investments from 32 countries. It has approved 50 businesses, 29 with foreign capital, 12 are joint ventures, seven operate with totally Cuban capital, and two are international economic associations. Out of the approved businesses, 26 are in operation, while 11 are present in the multinational zone.

The Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM)


Being a market plenty of possibilities to do business, Cuba stands with real opportunities across 17 sectors with 456 projects in various areas such as renewable energy, oil exploration, pharmaceuticals, food production & processing, cattle farming; power generation, infrastructure related to the chemical and metallurgical industries, tourism, and mining. Forty-five of the proposed projects are located at Mariel Special Development Zone while others are in different parts of the country.

*Foreign investment are allow in all sectors except education, health and the armed forces and offers tax exemptions to overseas companies.

Tourism is the sector with the greatest number of proposals, with 187 projects included in the portfolio. A high priority is being placed on infrastructural programmes and investments in the country associated to airports, ports, and railroad infrastructure.

Attractions and places in Cuba

Some social and economic facts that may help you to make a decision are the existence of:

• Stable political environment
• Low crime and pollution
• Low labour cost
• Highly educated and skilled work force
• New and younger Gov. Administration, April 2018
• New Constitution approved with important changes, April 2019
• New Taxation Law, 2013
• New Foreign Investment Law 108, 2014
• New land policy to support small farming, 1993.
• Now 80 % private managed Self-employment allowed
• Needs for extensive investment in many areas of the Cuban industry aiming at diversification of Business Partners
• Cuba is a co-founder of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. It integrates the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, it has international agreements with organisations such as ALADI, CARICOM, EU and WTO.
• The possibility to develop new companies with mixed capital (JV) or 100% foreign capital in a much friendly and relaxed business environment

Each year on the occasion of the International Fair of Havana a portfolio of business opportunities is present to the world business community to inform on the availability of projects. There are some sectors that must be on the interest of the Malaysian business community and Cuba is ready to partner in any of the existent modalities.

Biotechnology and healthcare

Cuban biotechnology products that are available in the Asian nations for some years

Cuba’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have a world-class reputation due to their innovation and high-quality standards. BioCubaFarma, the business group that represents the sector, comprises 31 companies with 64 production facilities and 20,000 employees. The company has a global presence, exporting to more than 40 countries. Cancer treatment drugs, prophylactic vaccines for infectious diseases, cardiovascular drugs and treatment of diabetic foot ulceration are just some of BioCubaFarma’s main products. They also have a large portfolio of projects in different development stages focused on different fields such as human, animal and plants

Cuba has a leading biotechnology sector, with the pharmaceutical group, BioCubaFarma, made up of: 16 large manufacturing enterprises with 78 production facilities; 8 commercialising enterprises; 11 enterprises abroad; and establishments in all the provinces of Cuba. It has over 21,000 employees with advanced education levels. Cuba is looking to expand this sector internationally by promoting projects in Cuba with strategic partners for the production of the finished forms and active pharmaceutical ingredients in generic medicines as well as the creation or enlarging of production capacities. There are successful partnering histories with China, Viet Nam, Thailand, Mongolia in the region.


Cuban mangoes

Agriculture in Cuba contributes less than 10% to the GDP today. The main crops are cassava, coffee, potato, citrus, rice, sugar, tobacco and tropical fruits, and pigs and chicken are the main livestock. Tobacco continues to be a very important crop for the Cuban economy, which is private-owned and brings to the country over USD 300 million in revenue.


Cuban avacado

In addition, coffee and citrus are also grown and exported, but the production is much less than what Cuba produced in the past.

Organic and urban farming via local farms and gardens are developed since the 90’s since the lack of herbicides and fertilizers and is to cover family food in small scale.








Local agriculture products


There is a range of opportunities for investors in the agriculture sector given that: the country has 6.3m hectares of agricultural land yet only 2,640,000 hectares are being cultivated and Cuba has a good strategic position for access to Caribbean markets.


Financial Services

The banking system is operated by the state since 1966 through the National Bank of Cuba, which sets interest rates, regulates foreign exchange and issues currency (the Cuban pesos and the Convertible pesos). There is no stock of exchange and it seems that the country will move to the currency unification any time soon as it has been recognised as one of the main causes of the Cuban economy distortion.

Cuban National Bank Building

The main opportunities on this sector are focused on foreign direct investment (FDI) to facilitate the access to external funding sources, the acquisition of banking technology and know-how, etc. This might be undertaken via the purchase of shares in the baking institutions created under the Law of Foreign Investment, JV capitals or 100 % foreign capital institutions as affiliates.

Important to clarify that 100 % Cuban capital financial institutions, as well as the establishment of foreign banks branches are not included in the investment offer. There are also opportunities on activities insurance related in order to develop new products and services and broadening the group of guarantees offered in support of the Foreign Investment process. In addition, it will allow the development of this activity with the access to modern technologies, knowledge and expertise on a wider range of insurance services not available now. On this sense, 100% foreign capital companies may not be created on this activity.


Cuba is in need of a modernised transport infrastructure. Opportunities exist for investors in the following areas:

• development of ports
• enlargement of airports
• road construction
• ship building and repair
• energy efficient cargo and public transport

Havana Port, Cuba

Oil and gas

Almost all Cuban territory, some 100,000 km2, is a prospect for oil exploration as is the zone of shallow waters and its extension towards the deep-water zone. In Cuba, there are several dozen oilfields; most of them have extra-heavy oil although there is also light, medium and very light oil. The oilfields are found at sea and can be accessed from land by horizontal drilling; what allows not only reach the fields but also to attain greater productivity. Cuba’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Gulf of Mexico shares the same scenarios, the same parent rock, reservoirs and seals of the prolific oil basin of the Gulf of Mexico where gigantic oilfields have been discovered and one of the greatest world-level industries has been developed.

Industrial sector:

• Building plants producing non flexible plastic containers in diverse format for domestic industry, domestic market and export
• Building plants producing flexible containers in diverse forms for industrial products’ filling
• Building and operating a factory of 355 ml lithographed aluminium containers with paints and varnish based coating for packing carbonated drinks and others (Cuba depend on imports in order to meet the total demand of aluminium containers for drinks)
• Building a plant to produce mattresses of different sizes and pillows using clean modern technology for the tourism industry, chains of stores and for export
• Building and operating a modern plant with clean technology to produce a varied assortment of plastic garden furniture for the domestic market and for export.
• Building a production plant for small format personal hygiene items for national tourism industry and export


• Modernizing engineering systems for construction and set ups
• Services for great weights transportation and load handling
• Repairing and modernizing the cellular concrete plant
• Capital repairs service for construction equipment
• Construction of a plant for the production of lightweight concrete and designer concrete
• Aluminium carpentry workshop for high standard productions
• Manufacturing fibre-cement panels

The economic development achieved by Malaysia allows it autonomy in several sectors in which Cuba today is deficient and we could also collaborate, such as food production, production of packages and packaging, of expendable material for the health sector and technical assistance in Finance control for example, just to mention a small number. The possibilities are within our reach, we just have to catch them, being Malaysia driving south-south cooperation and a merchant country for excellence. Cuba assures you that it is a truthful partner.

For further information you can follow the links:

Or visit the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba:


4th Floor, South Block
Wisma Golden Eagle Realty
142A, Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2141 1710; 2141 1495 ; 2141 1654
Fax: + 603-2141 1072

Sources: Cuba National Office of Statistics and Information