Today, Cuba’s main export good goes out of its airports in the head of the temporary travelers. In the case of the island, if we are talking of foreign trade, the times of huge amounts of cane sugar, cigars, coffee and nickel were left behind.
The export of professional services is a growing worldwide trend, which was strong from the 1990s, and is substantial for the survival of a locked, indebted and soft loans hungry economy as the Cuban.
In 1950 our exports of goods accounted for 93.48 percent of total sales to foreign agents, and four decades later, the situation was similar (91.15 percent); in a period of just four decades the balance has been reversed and in 2007 only accounted for 35.79 percent .Since in 2005, out of the total Cuban exports, 70 percent was of services. At the end of 2006, services accounted for 76 percent of gross domestic product and 70 percent of our total exports.
According to Yilian Exposito Jimenez, CEO of the Distributor of Cuban Medical Services SA belonging to the Public Health Ministry, more than 50,000 Cuban doctors are working in 66 countries in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Of these, 11 thousand 430 arrived in Brazil earlier this year, according to the sector minister, Roberto Morales.
The export of services has become the primary source of income of hard currency for Cuba; only from physicians it receives six billion dollars a year. This sector is followed by tourism, which generates about 1.7 billion, according to official data.
The export of professional services in Cuba is performed in the following activities:
-linked to informatics and research
-linked to education and sport.
The advantages of the island as issuer are identified in:
-preparation of a large number of specialists in many branches
-experience gained in the development of various sectors and projects
-globalization of higher education
-willingness of providing services in rural and / or remote from population centers and of higher development
-prestige achieved as country with highly developed services related to health, education, culture and sports services.
The fact that the activity is in the lead in terms of exports is not a spontaneous happening, but responds to the stated policy of “developing a comprehensive strategy in the export of services, including the professionals, including the creation of the appropriate legal framework and efficient business structures, capable of promoting partnership with foreign capital, to guarantee optimum utilization of the potential created in the country […] prioritize, in the export of professional services, the sale of projects or technological solutions regarding sending individual work force. Implementing external marketing programs and software solutions […] develop and implement a strategy to ensure new markets for the export of medical and pharmaceutical products.
However, one of the fundamental shortcomings lies in the high concentration of export destinations:
Although statistics provided by the National Bureau of Statistics and Information of Cuba (ONEI) is not, at all, profuse in nature, type and locations of commercial services that are exported; it is possible to identify some general limitations in this activity:
-restricted and conditioned approach, caused by lack of organizational and business culture in the topic
-insufficient use of the many opportunities available in the international market; including the use of electronic commerce, the presence of foreigners in the country and the implementation of projects for the freedom to choose
-little freedom for Cuban companies to choose in their relations with foreign agents. The legal framework underpinning the Cuban export activity is quite rigid and prone to monopoly of foreign trade. By regulation, no Cuban entity is authorized to make on its own activities in this order without being subject to the discretion of MINCEX
-gap between regulatory legal framework of Cuba’s foreign trade and aspirations to promote the development of the country from the export of professional services
-little market diversification
-a small portfolio
Own service exports risks compared to material goods, especially when competition is intended in markets located in highly developed countries with high technologies and vast experience in the marketing activity, trade and intellectual property.
The sustainability of the strategy of export of professional services must be analyzed for the sake of its warranty. Pending is the empowering of bolder market research to identify and develop business opportunities. Besides, it needs to implement more comprehensive projects linking goods and services in one export package.