The 29th International Fair of Havana (FIHAV 2011) opened here Monday, drawing traders and businessmen from over 60 countries.
"The main goal of the International Fair of Havana is to promote the economic relations between Cuba and the world," said Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuba's minister of foreign trade and investment.
FIHAV is considered to be the most important annual trade fair in Cuba. This year's event is the biggest in a decade.
Delegations led by high-level officials and trade associations from 20 countries will attend the fair, with some 1,500 foreign companies expected to present their products and technologies in various categories, the organizers said.
Spain is the country with most representatives at the Cuban fair, with over 100 companies participating.
Delegates from China, which has the second largest number of representatives with over 40 companies, said the key interests of the Asian giant lie in the electronic industry, biotechnology and energy sector.
Malmierca said the fair has demonstrated "its consolidation as an exhibition and business reunion, while world companies and businessmen continue to increase their interests for the meeting in Havana" and the fair became increasingly important for Cuba to promote exports.
"During the current global financial and economic crisis, the fair remains one of Cuba's tools to expand the market for its products and services. It is not just an event to promote trade, but also to evaluate the projects ensuring that Cuba stays in access to markets, technologies and financing," he said at the opening ceremony.
Latin America and Europe are the regions with the greatest presence at the event, which also hosts a business roundtable of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a regional alliance founded in 2004 including Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and three Caribbean islands.
Cuba was represented by 350 companies at the event displaying products in sectors such as health, genetic engineering and biotechnology, food processing, electronics, construction, raw materials and professional services.
"It is very clear that fairs are an important tool in strengthening the trade relations between nations, and the one in Havana has become an ideal space to show the economic potential of the island since its first edition," said Abraham Maciques, president of the FIHAV organizing committee.