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H.E. Juan Antonio Fernández Palacios

“Keeping the values of our society.“

Interview: Rainer Himmelfreundpointner

The Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to Austria explains his country´s strategy to improve its

economic development while at the same time preserving the achievements of the Cuban revolution.

CD: Your Excellency, during your rather new

Ambassadorship to Austria, what are your

impressions of the country so far?

Palacios: I actually began my duties in

November 2015, after having presented my

credentials to Federal President Heinz Fischer.

I have only been once in Vienna before,

nearly 25 years ago, during the World

Conference on Human Rights in 1993, on

which occasion I barely had time to sightsee

the city. But now I have discovered a

beautiful country with friendly, hardworking

people. Vienna is where I have found

also a lot of affection and love for Cuba.

According to official figures total trade between

the Cuba and Austria is nearly invisible, only some

6.6 million Euros of Austrian exports to Cuba and

some 3.8 million Euros of imports from Cuba.

Where would you highlight the most promising

areas to improve economic ties between Cuba and


Our trade is really insignificant, Austrian

businesses should be far more aggressive

entering our market. There is a great

potential for further increasing our bilateral

trade and economic relations. Cuba has

achieved a high development in the biotechnology

industry and there is a wide

export offer which includes Heberprot P

for diabetic foot ulcer treatment. Agricultural

and food industry production are also

prioritised sectors along with tourism, as

well as health, the development of energy

sources, especially renewable energy, the

exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons,

mining resources and construction

or improvement of industrial infrastructures.

Cuba obtains more than 95 percent of

electricity from fossil fuels and it is working

to change the country’s energy matrix

by taking advantage of renewable energy

sources, using solar and wind as well as power

from agro industrial waste such as sugar

cane, forestry, and scrub (marabou)

biomass, generation of water and biogas

power. We know all the possibilities that we

can find in Austria in this regard.

Are there any additional significant future

projects in the pipeline?

We have a diverse portfolio of foreign

investment possibilities, which contains

326 projects in 12 sectors, the majority

with pre-feasibility or feasibility studies

completed. This certainly opens up the opportunity

to develop trade and economic

relation ties. Foreign investment in Cuba,

as part of the updating of the Cuban economic

model, is aimed at the diversification

and expansion of export markets, the access

to advanced technologies, the replacement

of imports, the obtainment of foreign

financing, the creation of new sources of

employment, the attraction of new managerial

methods and their connection with

the development of productive chains, and

the change of the country’s energy matrix

with renewable sources of energy. There

also exist a lot of opportunities in the Mariel

Special Development Zone, a project directed

to encourage the nation’s sustainable

economic development by attracting foreign

investment, technological innovation

and industrial concentration while at the

same time ensuring environmental protection.

It covers an area of 465.4 square kilometers,

45 km west of Havana. The Special

Economic Development Zone of Mariel

will be a touchstone for technological development

in the region, a way to interest foreign

capital and a place which will provide

permanently connection to the Cuban economy

for the growth of cutting-edge manufacturing

and services.

Are there any Austrian companies already

investing in Cuba?

Up to date, there is no Austrian investment

in Cuba, but there is a great potential

for increasing trade and economic relations

and to promote foreign investment in

Cuba. Tax incentives are not the only advantages

for foreign investors to choose

Cuba as a place to invest. With the approval

of Law No. 118 and its complementary

norms, a favorable business environment

has been created in Cuba. And do not forget

the international agreements signed by

Cuba with the Latin American Integration

Association, the Caribbean Community,

the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of

Our America, the Common Market of the

South, the European Union and the World

Trade Organisation, which all support a

governmental policy that prioritises research

and technological innovation.

In regard to to the end of the US blockade against

Cuba how would you outline the major prospects

resulting out of this political change?

Preserve the achievements made by the

Cuban Revolution and advance in the construction

of a socialist, prosperous, sustainable

society where justice and social equity

prevails. If I had three wishes for the

future of my country, they would be the

improvement of the economy, keeping

peace and values of our society and remaining

cheerful and enterprising to face all

the difficulties from which no one escapes

in this world.



Born 1963 in Havanna, the Ambassador of the Republic

of Cuba to Austria took his post in November 2015. Prior

to this he served as Cuba‘s representative to the UN

Offices in Geneva and to the UNESCO.







myAustrian fliegt mich mit herzlichem Service nonstop ins karibische Kuba. Denn nichts

lässt das Herz höher schlagen, als der Rhythmus kubanischer Lebensfreude.

the charming way to fly


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