Bigger ambitions than cigars and rum
One of the world’s last Communist countries is opening up to the world. With a new direct service to the island from Northern Europe, Maersk Line underlines its commitment to a developing Cuba.
“The future is bright full of opportunities. Cuba is continuing to invest a lot in tourism, building new hotel capacity and infrastructure, and we’ve made it clear that we want to be there and support the development,” says Berny Villalobos, General Manager and responsible for 3rd party agencies at Maersk Line and SeaLand’s Caribbean Cluster and thus for the business with Cuba.
Today, the most frequently imported commodities to Cuba include building materials, spare parts for cars, tires, heavy machinery and also school materials and raw materials for a budding medicine production that the country is also betting on. Exports, on a much smaller scale, include rum, honey, charcoal and seafood.
In 2016, Maersk Line’s operation in Cuba broke all records, seeing its vessels carry 23,094 FFE to the ports in Mariel and Santiago. Volumes came from Asia primarily but also, increasingly, from Europe via a direct service which was launched the same year.
“We are the only global carrier that has a direct service to Cuba. It is an important asset to us and our strategic commitment to be Cuba’s partner in shipping and logistics, enabling them to propel their business needs and ambitions. Basically, we identified the potential and promised the government of Cuba to put in a service if they would give us the volumes,” says Berny Villalobos.