For the Cuban iron and steel industry, the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM) today represents the possibility of boosting its growth, contributing to production chains, import substitution and boosting exports.

In an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina, the first vice president of the Grupo Empresarial de la Sideromecánica (Gesime), Carlos Estrada, emphasized that the ZEDM is of utmost importance, since it contributes to foreign investment, a solvent market that allows the assimilation of new technologies, productive stability and the development of new products.

Gesime’s presence in the industrial pole dates from 2012, the year in which, he pointed out, it billed about four million total currency (coins that coexisted in the country before the implementation of the so-called ordering task) with an ascent to 10 million in 2020, and commented that by 2021 they plan to exceed 15 million dollars. We have the firm intention of entering the ZEDM with products that substitute imports, he emphasized. The group’s relationship with the area is on the rise, he said, in 2012 we only had five companies and 20 manufactures, but at the end of 2020, 22 entities with 53 elaborations were already incorporated.

He specified that one of the recent results is the lifting scissors imported until 2020, and now in 2021 they intend to build 20 pieces of equipment for lease in the area, this will allow to substitute imports of machinery whose international value ranges between 30 thousand and 35 thousand dollars. Another recently incorporated element -since 2020- are the 17, 12 and 9 meter lighting poles; These have the characteristics of resistance to oxidation due to the natural conditions of the enclave and were previously acquired abroad, he meant.

The same happened with the 18 and 21 electrical transmission towers, but the group has already planned the elaboration of 300 poles -now in the validation process-, which represents a saving of about two thousand dollars per unit of 21 meters and per those of 18 meters between 1,500 and two thousand dollars. According to data from the electricity company, he remarked, the country’s demand is about three thousand towers a year, which means in savings about six million dollars in a single product, a benefit that will also contribute to the development of the Cuban industry.

Estrada emphasized that all Gesime products substitute imports, and he pointed out that what is significant is to exceed the amounts achieved each year, in order to calculate the savings for this concept with that difference.

Regarding the chains, the manager highlighted that due to its characteristics the iron and steel industry complements itself internally and exemplified that in the area it can be seen in the leveling ramps in whose construction three companies participate to achieve the final product, the same happens with the carpentry of aluminum in which two entities participate.

Gesime’s participation in the ZEDM allows it to detect imported products with the possibility of being produced and developed by the national industry, he added. For this reason, they have three fundamental goals: to achieve the presence of the 53 companies in the group, to increase business in any of its forms, and to achieve greater linkages with users.

This relationship has an economically very feasible result, he said, highlighting that they already have two joint ventures in the initial stage with an investment to be completed in the coming years. One of them is for construction technologies and the other for the manufacture of reinforced polyethylene rebar.

The strategy to increase the obtaining of profits in the ZEDM is divided into two modalities, he explained, one working with the infrastructure, and the other based on the income received in foreign currency with a view to allocating a part to the acquisition of raw materials and the another to the development of technology in each industry. He recalled that companies operating in Mariel were recently approved to retain 80 percent of their revenues in freely convertible currency, and stressed that the benefits are already in sight despite the short implementation time. Most of the investments will be made through the companies Teconsa and Teccon Caribe, although they have other projects still without financing, one of them the factory of cans for soft drinks and beers.

All the results achieved in Mariel prompted the group to create a Gesime Representation in the pole, on an import, export and commercial basis, this – he pointed out – will facilitate the management and maintenance of business with clients and a quick response to the supply of goods. In addition, it will contribute to the knowledge of users of Gesime products and services and of the Cuban industry in general, since they detected foreign clients who import equipment produced by the group, which increased acquisition costs.

This office will help the company, even if it does not have permanence, to have as a link the presence of its products and the promotion with users. In this sense, he argued that a team will be in charge of promoting Gesime’s products. The important thing is to make ourselves known, he said.

In this way Gesime intends to demonstrate its ability to innovate, grow and adapt to new circumstances, since the Cuban iron and steel industry seeks to respond to the demands of the moment in order to strengthen its economy and guarantee greater well-being for the country.