[Marxism] Sugar Sector Diversifying with New Business Prospects

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 8 23:55:10 MST 2006

With sugar prices shooting up again, and companies everywhere
rushing to invest on the island, maybe some of those Brazilian
companies which did so well generating sugar for ethanol will invest
in upgrading the productive capacity of Cuba's sugar sector. It's far
from dead, even though its performance in recent years has been very
poor. The climate and culture of the island are good for sugar. What
it needs is investment to upgrade its productivity. In Bartolome
Maso, the town in Granma province I've visited several times, the
local sugar mill is one which hasn't been closed down. It's was one
of the last set up under capitalism and is powered by what was at the
time of its contruction the latest and hottest new energy source:
electricity. The plant was built in 1925. Brazil spent magabucks to
upgrade its sugar production and its campacity to produce ethanol,
so it may be able to help Cuba to upgrade its own plants which are
woefully-behind the times. Since the market for sugar and ethanol
is going up and up, Brazilian investment would be a possibility.

Learn something about how Brazil upgraded its sugar and ethanol:

The Cuban Sugar Sector Diversifying with New Business Prospects
Ethanol on the focus of Zerus, a business society promoting investment


Those interested in doing business with Cuba in the field of non-traditional
products can now look at new options such as the local production of
ethanol, better known as alcohol, which is currently being used around the
world as car fuel in a mixture with gasoline in an effort to lower gasoline
costs and reduce environmental pollution.

Ethanol is a non-aggressive renewable fuel that helps reduce oil imports,
says José Rivera Ortiz, director of the Cuban business society ZERUS, in
charge of the development and supervision of business and investment
projects in the Cuban Sugar sector. Ethanol is at the center of efforts to
secure new business deals as part of transformations underway in the sugar
industry, he pointed out.

Rivera Ortiz told Opciones business magazine that any efforts by foreign and
Cuban entrepreneurs to jointly produce ethanol in Cuba, must first look at
guaranteeing financial and technological resources needed to boost sugar
cane production as the necessary raw material for the advancement of ethanol

ZERUS Society was formerly known as Quiminaz, a company created in 1997 from
the association of Mexico's Zuker and Quimizuk S.A. enterprise. It adopted
its new name following a group of measures adopted in 2005 aimed at having
the business group control, supervise and develop new projects involving
foreign investment in the sugar sector and the development of labor in
enterprises linked to that economic field.

ZERUS' director pointed out that the company is working hard to achieve new
business deals in the context of restructuring the sector, which now focuses
on the design of national programs aimed at meeting national sugar
consumption and favoring commercial activity, as well as contributing to
food plans and labor force development.

The Cuban sugar industry is more than 500 years old, said the executive, and
is one of Cuba's traditional sectors with an appropriate infrastructure for
its current production. He pointed out that Cuba's Foreign Investment Law
offers significant benefits to those who decide to set up joint enterprises
with the island, whose human resources are skilled enough to successfully
undertake just any kind of task.

Rivera Ortiz explained that foreign capital can operate in all areas of the
Cuban Sugar Ministry according to the modalities established by Cuban law
and that ZERUS has the legal force to subscribe to agreements for
international economic associations.

As part of the restructuring of the Sugar sector some 1,7 million hectares
of land, formerly dedicated to growing sugar cane, are being used to develop
different agricultural products for the internal market, to boost forests
and fruit trees as well as other agricultural activities, said the
executive, and noted that all those areas may assimilate different
modalities of foreign capital association.

Alcohol production could become a significant option in our sector, said the
executive and recalled that the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Investment and
Economic Cooperation has already approved an economic association project to
produce alcohol in Cuba.

"We think that not only traditional sugar-derived productions, like syrups
and other derivatives, are important sources for concerting business deals
with foreign capital, since new projects in the forestry field, in the
production of food may also be of interest for joint action.", said the

"With that strategy in mind, we continue to undertake new initiatives aimed
at having the renewed sugar sector make the historic contribution it has
always made to the development of the Cuban economy".

Some countries already have experience using alcohol or ethanol as car
fuel,. Brazil, for instance, developed the initiative with the construction
of more than five million cars which were fueled with alcohol in 1990. At
present that South American nation has the know-how to produce cars that can
use either gas or alcohol or any mixture of the two.

Meanwhile, countries like Canada, the United States, China, Australia,
Colombia, Peru and Thailand, have been using gas mixed with 10 percent of
ethanol as car fuel. The use of up to 10 percent alcohol in that mixture
does not require modification in car parts or engines. However, using more
than that amount would require certain modifications.

Other countries like Paraguay, India, Sweden, South Africa and Japan have
been mixing gas with less than 10 percent of alcohol as car fuel over the
past years, while many countries in Europe and Asia have been studying the
introduction of ethanol in the transport sector.

Cuba, a traditional producer of sugar and its derivatives, has a large
potential in the field, particularly when oil prices are rising on the
international market and the world demands greater environment protection

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