Dutch gi­ant Unilever breaks ground for fac­tory in Cuba

Jamaica Gleaner - - GROWTH & JOBS -

HA­VANA, Cuba (AP): Dutch con­sumer prod­uct gi­ant Unilever has be­come one of the largest for­eign com­pa­nies to move into a spe­cial eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment zone at the Cuban port of Mariel that is meant to jump­start out­side in­vest­ment on the is­land.

Unilever broke ground Fri­day on a $35 mil­lion joint ven­ture with the Cuban govern­ment to pro­duce per­sonal care prod­ucts.

Unilever will hold a 60 per cent stake in the ven­ture, which will pro­duce sham­poo, soaps and other prod­ucts for lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional dis­tri­bu­tion. The fac­tory is ex­pected to gen­er­ate 300 lo­cal jobs and will be man­aged by Unilever of­fi­cials.

Only seven other for­eign firms have moved to open op­er­a­tions in the spe­cial eco­nomic zone since it was in­au­gu­rated in 2014. Many have yet to break ground or re­main in the early stages. Cuba says it is hope­ful of ac­cel­er­at­ing the pace of for­eign in­vest­ment in the coun­try, a pace lag­ging at less than half the an­nual goal of more than $2 bil­lion a year.

Eleven more com­pa­nies have been ap­proved to open op­er­a­tions at the free trade zone, Cuban of­fi­cials say.

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