History, mission

Colonial Period

During the period between the end of the Ten Years War and 1902 Cuba went through a difficult stage. For different reasons, those involved in the economy of the Island were not interested in radical solutions and, in the end, decided to join in defense of their own interests to achieve some reforms. Thus, the first group of businessmen of Havana emerged on May 10 1876 that in their first meeting on June 24 in the Casino Español de La Habana left established the General Commercial Trade Center Havana, being elected as its first president Mr. Quintin Torres Barzozábal. In 1877 it was decided to change the name of the institution to the General Trade Junta with a concession of official character. This name was modified again in 1887 to Official Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Navigation. However since a request existed to recognize the Chamber of Commerce of Santiago de Cuba, official character was withdrawn from all the chambers.

US intervention and neocolonial republic

On May 20 1899 and January 3 1906 the Chamber assumed the names of Center of Businessmen and Industrialists of the Island of Cuba and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Island of Cuba, respectively. Finally on June 20 of 1927 the Chamber took the name that maintained until its dissolution in 1963 to become the current Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Cuba. By adopting this new name the Chamber did not limit itself to the defense of the interests of the businessmen but also those of industry, agriculture and navigation.

The Chamber was not the only economic corporation existing until the founding of the new Chamber in 1963. Already in 1878 there was a Society of Landowners and Agriculturists and in 1884 was founded the Union of Manufacturers of Tobacco. It was the successor of the Union of Tobacco Manufacturers. Also created were other associations and chambers, including one in Santiago de Cuba in 1887 and continued to blossom out to such an extent that in 1932, in the special centenary edition of Diario de la Marina journal, it was noted that there were 116 economic corporations, including eight chambers of commerce, industry and navigation, a national chamber of trade and industry and 31 chambers of commerce.

The revolutionary period

The Chamber of the Nation

It was the early years of the Cuban Revolution when the directors of the chambers of commerce and other private institutions began to abandon the country; it was the employees themselves of the Chamber of Commerce who requested the intervention of the revolutionary authorities.

Amadeo Blanco Valdés-Fauly was designated as official supervisor of the Chamber of Commerce. At the time he was the head of the Office of Fairs and Expositions of the Bank for Cuban Foreign Trade (BANCEC). This office was subordinated to the then undersecretary of BANCEX, Jacinto Torras de la Luz.

At the time the US blockade against Cuba began to be felt and the intent to isolate the country in the international sphere. The direction of the Revolution saw the Chamber of Commerce as an efficient tool to contribute in the search of new markets, support the large reorganization of Cuban foreign trade and confront the effects of the blockade, facilitating business relations with other countries.

Thus, in 1962 the Revolutionary Government founded the Management Commission of the Chamber of Commerce, presided over by Amadeo Blanco that prepared a project for the new Chamber of Commerce with a different structure and purposes. In 1963 the previous Chamber was dissolved and the Law No. 1091 of February 1st. 1963 created the current Chamber that assumed its new content, taking the place that it left which in 1927 took the name of Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Cuba, which was also adopted by the institution founded by the Revolution. The first yearly assembly of its associate members was held that year.

As an important step in the process of updating the Cuban economic model, it emphasizes the approval in March of Law No. 118 Foreign Investment and its complementary regulations. In this regard, it should be noted that in Decree no. 325, Regulation of this Law, was assigned to the Chamber of Commerce as a new function, the responsibility of being one of the specialized institutions authorized to carry out activities to promote foreign investment.

 

 Period

Presidents of the Chamber

1963 - 1971

Amadeo Blanco Valdés-Fauly

1971 - 1976

Alberto Betancourt Roa

1979 - 1986

José Miguel Díaz Mirabal

1986 - 1992

Julio Antonio García Oliveras

1993 - 1999

Carlos Martínez Salsamendi

1999 - 2001

Héctor Pérez Páez

2001 - 2003

Antonio Luis Carricarte Corona

2003 - 2006

Bertha Delgado Guanche García

2006 - 2009

Raúl Becerra Egaña

2009 - 2010

Pedro Álvarez Borrego

2010 - 2013

Estrella Madrigal Valdés

2014-

Orlando Hernández Guillén

 

International Trade Arbitration

The Court of Arbitration of Cuban Foreign Trade emerged with the creation of the Chamber of Commerce and, since 1965, with its first statute, until the present moments. It has been functioning as an international and permanent court of arbitration taking important steps in the sphere of trade relations since commercial arbitration has become an alternative instrument in the solution of trade conflicts of international character in the whole world.

The institution was presided over at its foundation by the prestigious jurist and university professor Dr. Héctor Garcini and integrated by well-known national and international arbiters.

As of the entrance of Cuba to the International Chamber of Commerce (CCI) the creation of the Cuban National Committee, the nomination of arbiters for the arbitration of CCI and its presence as member of the International Committee, Cuba has taken a new step towards the alternative solution of trade conflicts that was completed, in the international sphere, the ratification by Cuba to the European Convention of Arbitrations in 1961 and the New York Convention on the execution of Foreign Arbitration Sentences of 1958.

Fairs and expositions

Today fairs and expositions have become a necessary element of the trade scenario and business in Cuba. Also well-known is the Cuban participation in world fairs, primarily since the triumph of the Revolution. However, poorly known are the early origins of Cuban presence in these national and international events.

Cuba in the expositions of the 19th century

Cuban experience in expositions goes back to the forties of the 19th century, in the city of Camagüey. The events of this kind, organized in the Island and even those in which intervened as a guest abroad, until the end of that century, were nuanced by the colonial condition.

By 1851, the largest island of the Antilles was called upon to participate in the first universal exposition in the London Crystal Palace as a Spanish entity: the motto wielded bets on the community of interests between the Metropolis and its provinces.

Decades later, during the Ten Years War, colonial authorities called on the presence of national Cubans to the Philadelphia Exposition, sponsored by the United States to mark the centenary of its independence. The reasons that attested Cuban participation are eloquent:

“It is necessary that all peoples that take part in this universal event observed that Spain is still one of the first colonial powers in the world, and even though it has no effort, largely by the foreign and interior conflicts that, since the beginning of the century afflict it, it shouldn’t be so bad a colonial regime that demonstrate those s results”.

Colonial doctrine was also expressed in the methods to order objects for the expositions. In this manner “Cuban” products were grouped around the local of Spain and as such ordered the ordinance of the colonial government to attend the Chicago Contest of 1893.

Cuban nationals elaborated proposals that outlined their inclusion in the exhibitions. With their products they highlighted the rejection or commonwealth with the Metropoli; their products were not limited to natural wealth of the soil as desired by the colonialists, but included works of art and literature, crafts examples or made by local industry, many receiving prizes and exhibited with pride.

Also, these “expos” encouraged the ideology of affiliation as occurred with the plan promoted in 1862 by José López Alegría who founded a universal palace of expositions dedicated to the Prince of Asturias. On the other hand, in others, the discourses took upon energetically themselves, with finality, to protect local interests. In this respect, the Chamber of Commerce of Havana spurns the offer foreseen in the “Permanent Exposition of Products” of this Antillean Island in Madrid.

While not the supreme government – adduces the Chamber – the first to take the first step, abolishing the exports duties owed to its output products withdrawn from Cuba and its industries and suppressing at the same time the imports duties owed to those same produces, incoming in the Peninsula (…) all other means are of limited effectiveness.

The organizers of the Havana Exposition of 1888 wanted to guarantee the course of their project, using praise as strategy. In the message sent to the Governor of the Island, the capital elite assure “…that, the exhibitor will not stop to referred to the utility of this Exposition since it will not hide the S.E. of some much proof given the love for the progress of this country...”

From the peninsula side were received conciliatory allegations. The commission in charge of assuring the participating of Spain and its colonies in the Philadelphia meeting after stressing the interest of “it’s most prized jewel” that claims the need of attendance, given the “closeness” and large trade of this precious Antilles with the North American Republic.

When representatives of the Island decided to participate in the first exhibit of the 20th century in Buffalo (1901), there was experience in this type of meeting, only that now the discourse of the ”nation” and “modernity” sketched in these events would have a different meaning.

 

Cuban Participation in universal expositions of the 19th century

1851: 1851: Crystal Palace, London, United Kingdom

Prizes: 4

Products: cigars (tobaccos) and sugar

 

1876: Philadelphia, United States.

Prizes: 37

Products: tobacco (rolled and leafs), sugar, alcohol, chocolate, tinned sweets, asphalt, wood, rum, wines, perfume extracts, engineering scientific Works, meteorology and others.

 

1888: Barcelona, Spain

Prizes: Gold Medal

Products: alcohol, mining, coffee, cacao, sugar (gross, centrifuged, honey) and tobacco.

 

1889: Paris, France

Prizes: 40 (12 Gold Medals, 11 Silver Medals, Nine Bronze, seven mentions and Grand prize to the tobacco community group of Havana).

 

1900: El Fígaro, Modern School, Paris, France

Prizes: 140

Products: Sugar, rum, tobacco, fan collections, lithographs, publications.  

 

Fairs and expositions in the 20th century after 1959

As great events were qualified the first fairs Cuba in which participated abroad after the triumph of the Revolution.

The first exhibition the Revolutionary Government presented abroad was in New York in 1959. Only a year later, in 1960, the island attended the fairs in Belgrade and Zagreb, both in Yugoslavia. These incursions on the Old Continent were followed in 1961 by participation in Leipzig of the now extinct German Democratic Republic. The following year it attended the expo in Poznan (Poland) and Brno (Czechoslovakia) and, afterwards, the fair in Budapest, organized by the Office of Fairs and Expositions of BANCEX under the charge of Amadeo Blanco Valdés-Fauly.

These were the antecedents of the fair work that was later transferred to the newborn Chamber of Commerce of Republic of Cuba in 1963. Thus, the Cuban image and products traveled to Casablanca (Morocco, 1963); Osaka (Japan, 1964); Damascus, Tripoli, Algiers and Baghdad; Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Western Europe.

These activities gained in importance in the country in which there are dozens of fairs and specialized salons throughout the land, a movement that began with the International Fair of Havana in 1983. However, still in the memory is the expo known as Railroad Operation that had a train with 56 carriages that transported the exhibition “Consume Cuban Products” throughout the country and closed in Havana in May 20 1960 with the presence and one intervention of Commandant Ernesto Che Guevara.

It is also worth remembering the foreign fairs during the first years of the Revolution that chose the country to host them. In 1960 the extinct Soviet Union (USSR) set up in the Fine Arts Palace the first large exposition in the country, still remembered as an important event and in which there was a large panoramic of that Union of Republics.

This was followed, in the same site, other expositions of China and Czechoslovakia. There were others from the GDR in the Zoo of 26th Street; of Italy in Pavilion Cuba and from Bulgaria and Argentina, also in Pavilion Cuba. During the seventies the Rancho Boyeros Fairground hosted expositions from Rumania, Argentina, Mexico and Bulgaria, in that order.

World expositions

In the 20th century World expositions have become great fairs where the latest technological and industrial developments are presented. In 1923 the International Bureau of Expositions (IBE) was created in Paris to control the frequency and supervise the functioning of the universal expos, an organization which is affiliated the Cuban Chamber of Commerce.

After the triumph of the Revolution Cuba has participated in the most important, universal and international expos held in the world, in which the Chamber of Commerce was in charge of the Cuban pavilions since Osaka 70.

  • Universal Expo of Montreal, Canada, 1967: “Man and his world”./li>
  • Universal Expo of Osaka, Japan, 1970: “Progress and harmony for humanity”.
  • Universal Expo of Vancouver, Canada, 1986: “Transportation and communication”.
  • Universal Expo of Seville, Spain, 1992: "The Era of Discoveries ".
  • Universal Expo of Lisbon, Portugal, 1998: "The oceans: a heritage for the future ".
  • Universal Expo of Hanover, Germany, 2000: “Man – Nature – Technology”.
  • Universal Expo of Aichi, Japan, 2005: “Nature’s wisdom.”
  • Universal Expo of Zaragoza, Spain, 2008: “Water and sustainable development”./li>
  • Universal Expo of Shanghai, P.R of China, 2010: “Better City, Better Life”.