Port of Mariel Cuba Has Great Potential for U.S. Business

According to the Wall Street Journal, the new deep-water port at Mariel Cuba on the north shore of the island only 45 km. west of Havana has great potential for the U.S.[1] Below is a map showing where Mairel is located and an aerial photograph of the initial infrastructure for the port.








On March 25 officials of 18 U.S. logistics companies completed a trip to Cuba that included observation of operations at the new port. They also met with prospective partners, including ProCuba,, a promoter of foreign trade and investment in Cuba.

The U.S. business officials said this port is an ideal location for cross-docking, or re-sorting and distributing, cargo from large “post-panamax” ships to smaller vessels headed for U.S. ports. That could include ships from Asia with cargo bound for East Coast ports that aren’t equipped to handle the bigger ships.

They also observed that the new agreement for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide to manage hotels in Havana will start a flow of U.S. goods across the Straits of Florida for the hospitality business. In addition, many U.S. companies are looking to export commodities, frozen foods and consumer goods to Cuba, The Mariel port will also be useful for such shipments.

The port, as discussed in an earlier post, is strategically located along the route of the main maritime transport flows in the western hemisphere. As the largest industrial port in the Caribbean, it will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology to handle cargo from the larger container ships that are beginning to arrive with the new expansion of the Panama Canal. Those larger ships can carry up to 12,500 containers, triple the capacity of the current ships, and the port’s warehouse capacity is 822,000 containers. Here are some photos of the development of this port.

The Mariel project includes highways connecting the port with the rest of the country, a railway network, and communication infrastructure. In the adjacent special zone, currently under construction, there will be productive, trade, agricultural, port, logistical, training, recreational, tourist, real estate, and technological development and innovation activities in installations that include merchandise distribution centers and industrial parks.

The special zone is divided into eight sectors, to be developed in stages. The first involves telecommunications and a modern technology park where pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms will operate. Other sectors include renewable energies, agriculture and food, chemical, construction materials, logistics and rental equipment.

Cuba’s Office of the Special Area Development Mariel (ZEDM) is focused on attracting investors and boosting the infrastructure for the port. It follows a deliberate strategy of promotion, from market research and planning to governing the urban progress. In 2015 it made a promotion to countries, sectors and companies that have potential to settle in the ZEDM and can actively contribute to its development. For Sector A, just west of the Bay of Mariel, eight users have been approved and infrastructure development has proceeded. [2]


[1] Chao, Logistics Experts See Shipping Hub Potential in Cuba, W.S.J. (Mar. 29, 2016).

[2] Felipe, The ZED Mariel in the focus of investors, Granma (Jan. 13, 2016).

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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