When we hear that a form of non-state management has ventured into import and / or export operations, almost automatically our mind associates such activity with agro-industrial products, equipment, accessories, raw materials …
However, one of the positive elements of the regulations published in August 2020, which opened the doors to foreign trade through the management of state-owned companies, is that it does not limit said possibility to self-employed workers (TCP) or non-agricultural cooperatives – rather, it is for the entire non-state sector – and that the services and goods that can be placed in the international arena are as varied as that same market. This is well known to TCP Bernardo Romero, founder of Ingenius Cuba, a micro-company of computer and electronic solutions that has already signed three export contracts, two through Softel and one through Desoft.
«We do not export a product, but a service that could be defined as software development tailored to the client. Until now they have only been small agreements, as we are just starting, but the purpose is to continue growing and position ourselves in a foreign market that is competitive and demanding. Although for Romero the experience of exporting has been positive and he appreciates the specialized support of the State entities, he considers that «there are many elements that can be improved and that could be changed in order to put forward this policy that can bring so much for the companies. form of non-state management, as for the country »
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS SAY?
Data recently offered by directors of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (Mincex), indicate that until the first fortnight of January 2021, 4 450 forms of non-state management had approached specialized companies, while 2 081 have firm intentions to establish some type of operation. Since the regulations were published five months ago, 863 contracts have been signed: 42 for exports and 821 for imports, and as a result of these negotiations, $ 22 million have been moved.
However, when analyzing such data, we could ask ourselves why the number of agreements signed to import goods is higher than those related to exports. According to Vivian Herrera Cid, general director of Foreign Trade of Mincex, the Cuban economy, and the forms of non-state management do not escape, has a high import vocation, a trend that is essential to reverse as the national industry be able to satisfy the growing demand of all economic actors. Along with the negotiations, he explained to Granma, a survey has been carried out in the territories of all the exportable potential, since each product or service that can be placed on the world market, even if not on a large scale, is a door currency input.
The absence of these initiatives, she said, together with the technological obsolescence of the Cuban industrial establishment, business immobility, and excess regulations, are among the causes that have led to the decrease in exports. At present, moorings have begun to be untied and the results, sooner rather than later, must be positive.
“However, we must also bear in mind that exporting is not an easy thing. In addition to meeting a series of technical requirements and international standards, there are negotiations so that this exportable product can be placed in a market, where it will be competing with other recognized brands. These are procedures that non-state management forms are frequently unaware of or do not fully dominate, but that foreign trade companies do manage efficiently, since they have the experience to make processes feasible and even make operations cheaper. that Cuba is a signatory to several trade agreements, which include benefits in tariff matters, he commented.
IT’S NECESSARY ACCOMPANIMENT ?
Although there are criteria that question why import and / or export activities of a commercial nature should be carried out through specialized state-owned companies – there are currently 41 -, reality has shown, in the words of Herrera Cid, that “such conduct is necessary, having taking into account the dissimilar existing regulations, as well as the importance of knowing customers, their solvency ”.
A similar opinion is shared by Orelvis Bormey, who defines as “satisfactory and vital” the advice of the Cubaexport company throughout the process, which allowed its peanut nougat productions to make the long journey from Villa Clara to Italy. “Initially, as part of a market trial, we exported 5,000 peanut nougat in 75-gram formats, 2,000 of them fully ground and 3,000 ground with grains. Cubaexport already had working relationships with the foreign entity and that created a security scenario for commercial transactions, ”he assured Granma. For this TCP, formally marketing its products for international consumption is “an excellent experience that exposes results, stimulates and gratifies work and dedication.”
In addition, he said, exports report income in mlc, which energize the economy of the new forms of management and the country. “This income, in turn, allows us to carry out imports that will guarantee the incorporation of technology, which results in the efficiency of processes and production costs, which then define sales prices.”
The self-employed Bernardo Romero considers, on the other hand, that although the advice of the companies is valuable, since they have a superior structure and the experience of lawyers and businessmen, the rules governing the export process focused on small and commercial services should be reviewed. rapid. We are not talking – he pointed out – of exporting containers of avocado, pineapple or charcoal, but of services such as software and IT solutions, which have to go through a too long process, when foreign clients who request this type of service seek operability , speed and efficiency. This does not mean that intermediary companies are not necessary, but rather that it would be necessary to specify and analyze which services can be managed differently, taking into account their own nature, he pointed out.
NEW STANDARDS, NEW WORK DYNAMICS
Experiences such as those of Orelvis or Bernardo testify that for non-state forms of management it is possible, and feasible, to enter foreign trade, and that the path is gradually shedding the initial uncertainties and fears, although there is still much to do and get better.
As the General Director of Foreign Trade of Mincex admits, the entry into force of the regulations that govern this activity has imposed a challenge in the way we did things. In the new scenario, state-owned companies –which in their daily routine tend to carry out millimeter planning of their imports and / or exports– are faced with other forms of work, to undertake steps that demand greater immediacy, although they occur on a smaller scale, and that has not yet been fully achieved, he said.
«For example, importers like Tiendas Caribe, Cimex and Sasa are used to buying large volumes of homogeneous mass of products, and then selling them to the market. The new dynamics initially seemed strange to them, and this created “bottlenecks” that slowed down the procedures, in addition to other deficiencies such as lack of communication with non-state forms of management and resistance to change. In relation to imports, specifically, several clients have indicated their dissatisfaction with the delay in the arrival of their products.
“Although up to now I have received all the articles with the agreed quality-price, it would be beneficial for specialized entities to have a certain amount of products in stock, which would allow us to buy them at the necessary time and without delay,” said Caridad María González Guerra, a TCP in gastronomic and cafeteria services, who has imported raw materials for the production of ice cream.
Many of the workers of the non-state sector do not have large sums of mlc to make large purchases in advance and, on the other hand, the economic blockade of the us. uu and Covid-19 complicate the import scenario, causing products to sometimes take two to three months to reach our hands, she said. According to Herrera Cid, these delays happen when the goods are not on consignment and you have to wait a while for their arrival in the country. However, she clarified, more than 50% of the contracts have used the modality of consignment or customs warehouses, which makes it possible for the goods to be delivered immediately.
Another concern raised by the forms of non-state management is related to the possibility that state companies, as part of their specialization, suggest types of markets or possible clients to the non-state sector, which would optimize operations, since they would be foreign entities reliable and, in many cases, with which business relationships have already been established.
Although we cannot forget that only a few months ago this foreign trade activity began and, both the forms of non-state management and the companies are called to a process of continuous work and learning, this is the time to continue improving the ways of doing and promote, among all, that imports are taxed to improve the quality of services, and that the Cuba brand conquers the international market.