The Brazilian government has signed agreements that have paved the way for three new projects to be launched in Cuba. According to the Cuban state-run media, at the end of January 2014, the governments of both countries signed three memorandums of understanding, under which there will be a joint project between the countries to launch a plastic manufacturing facility, Brazil will finance a project to modernise and enlarge Cuba's airport infrastructure, and the two countries will explore the possibility of jointly building a tobacco plant.

The announcement of the memorandums came shortly after Raul Castro, the president of Cuba, and Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, inaugurated Cuba's first special development zone. The zone is located in port Mariel, 45 kilometres west of Havana. The port itself recently received a major overhaul thanks to the Brazil Development Bank, which provided $682m in favourable loans for the first phase of the project.

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During the inauguration ceremony, Ms Rousseff stated that "Brazil believes in, and is betting on, the human and economic potential of Cuba" and, according Chinese state press agency Xinhua, the country has pledged $290m towards the second phase of the port's development. Ms Rousseff's trip to Cuba was followed in February by a visit by Brazil's former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

According to greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets, between 2003 and 2013, Spanish companies were the biggest investors in Cuba, followed by their Russian and Venezuelan counterparts. In the same period, three Brazilian companies – oil giant Petrobras, glass manufacturer Fanavid and retail chain TenTudo – launched four projects in Cuba.