The first Cuban Lebanese Economic Forum (CLEF2015) took place in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 16, 2015 in the presence of high profile officials, dignitaries, spokespeople and professionals. The Cuban Lebanese Economic Forum was held under the patronage of the Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade, HE Dr. Alain Hakim, and with the support of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture of Beirut & Mount Lebanon, hosted by the Lebanese Cuban Businessmen Council.
The CLEF2015 agenda included a rich line up of speakers and presentations, each tackling a different element of investing in Cuba. The morning session included keynote addresses by: H.E. Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade Dr. Alain Hakim; H.E. Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Mr. Minister Rodrigo Malmierca; President of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Orlando Hernandez Guillen; President of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, Mr. Mohammad Choucair and Ali Kazma, President of the Lebanese Cuban Businessmen Council (LCBC).
In addition, Maitre Sami Touma of Sami Touma Law Firm, along with Ms. Deborah Rivas Saavedra, General Director for Foreign Investment, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment in Cuba headed a panel discussion on the legal framework, new laws and regulations for investing in Cuba. The most notable shift opening up Cuba to foreign investment includes the introduction of Law 118, which includes cutting tax on profits in half—from 30 percent to 15 percent for most industries—and eliminates the prior 25 percent tax on labor costs, as well as allowing 100 percent foreign ownership.
The afternoon session of CLEF2015 included diverse presentations on topics such as: the framework and opportunities in Cuban Genetic Engineering, Biotechnology & Pharmaceutical Industry by Mr. Merardo Pujol, Director of Development of the Centre of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Cuba; opportunities in the Energy sector in Cuba by Mr. Pedro Abigantús León, Business and Investment Director, Ministry of Energy and Mines in Cuba; opportunities in the Tourism sector in Cuba, by Mr. José Reinaldo Daniel Alonso, Business Director of the Ministry of Tourism in Cuba; spotlight on the economic development zone in Cuba, ZED Mariel by Zariuska Martínez Remigio, Legal Director of Office of Mariel Development Zone Doing Business in Cuba and a presentation on ‘doing business in Cuba’ by Mr. Luke Graeme Ingles, Director, Transaction Advisory Services, EY Caribbean Professional Services Limited (Cuba).
The Lebanese Cuban Businessmen Council was founded in early 2015, bringing together 20 businessmen, comprising the Board. To date, the official Lebanese delegation composed of LCBC board members and officials from Lebanon have visited Cuba, signing an official agreement between the Lebanese and Cuban Chambers of Commerce.
For more information on the LCBC and Cuban Lebanese Economic Forum, visit www.lcbcouncil.com