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British companies to invest US$400m in Cuba

Co-President of The Cuba Initiative, John Hutton, speaks during the inauguration of a business seminar in Havana, Cuba, on April 28, 2015.

[HAVANA] British companies will invest US$400 million in Cuba initiatives, in areas that reportedly include agriculture, tourist infrastructure and energy, a business delegation said Thursday.

Agreements were signed in Cuba during an economic forum that brought together 32 British companies.

British politician John Hutton, chairman of the Cuba Initiative project which brought the businesses together, said in Spanish-dubbed televised remarks that "we arrived at the right moment."

Local media reported that the investments would be made in agriculture as well as energy and tourist infrastructure, including a new golf course.

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The golf course will be the island's second British-built facility after a US$350-million course in the resort town of Varadero, some 140km west of Havana.

The British delegation's trip follows on the heels of similar missions from the US states of Texas and New York.

Since the historic rapprochement between the United States and Cuba was announced in December, economic and diplomatic delegations have scrambled to send missions to the communist island.

Previous to the thaw, however, Cuba had already adopted a series of tax breaks for foreign investors in March 2014 in a bid to attract new investment.

Bilateral trade between Britain and Cuba totaled US$168 million in 2013, according to latest figures.

Britain sends more tourists to Cuba than any other European country, with around 150,000 visitors per year.

The Cuba Initiative has worked to strengthen relationships between the two countries since 1995.