“The measure regarding the use of the dollar still does not mean that banking relations between Cuba and the U.S. have normalized. Cuban banks are still not allowed to have correspondent accounts in U.S. banks, which means that we must continue to operate via third parties, which increases operating and procedural costs…
“The prohibition on U.S. imports of Cuban products remains in place. The only thing that was modified was the absurd prohibition on U.S. citizens’ consumption of Cuban products and services in third countries.”
– Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, Press Conference, Havana, March 17, 2016
Interesting to see how the press are reporting the latest changes to U.S. Commerce and Treasury regulations concerning Cuba.
“The new rules open international banking to Cuba and to commerce with dollars.” (L.A. Times)
Well, kind of. The dollar still can only be presented indirectly by Cuban financial institutions for payment through third country financial institutions. Common sense tells you that direct transfers are always less costly than transfers that make multiple stops along the way, so for Cuba the costs remain elevated, but at least non-Cuban banks can stop fretting about the possibility of being fined.
But why is nobody reporting this embarrassing bit?
“Americans traveling in Europe [may now] purchase and consume Cuban origin alcohol and tobacco products while abroad…“
So that Cohiba you smoked in London last month? Hope you didn’t video it on your cellphone.
James Barrood is the CEO of the New Jersey Tech Council which came to Cuba on two separate trade missions. He offers an unusually clear-sighted, pragmatic view of the way business in both countries could benefit from normalized relations, free of the usual axe-grinding and arrogance about how Cuba needs to do x y or z in order to be allowed to trade with the U.S. Barrood recognizes that trade is a two way street, but even more, he opened his eyes while visiting and saw the amazing things Cuba has to offer Americans. Not just in terms of high technology and biotechnology (the powerhouse that is hardly ever mentioned), but in terms of its society.
“We must forget our preconceptions that Cuba is a third-world, backward, poor island of 11 million people. It is not. Rather, in many ways, it is a modern miracle. I encourage you to visit, not as a cigar or rum aficionado nor a beach bum, but as a passionate student who wants to engage a people and culture, and simply learn. A historical opportunity this extraordinary will never present itself again.”
Havana’s international fair (FIHAV) is a great unknown for the vast majority of American businesses. But not all.
American businesses do attend the fair. They are not listed anywhere in the exhibitors catalog, nor are they shown anywhere on the exhibitors map. Tucked away in a quiet, remote pavilion, they mainly include a variety of agricultural producers, ports and shippers, quietly attending the fair under the shelter of licenses granted by OFAC.
Some snapshots from FIHAV 2014:
Cuba is much more than just rum and tobacco but those stands are the evident showstoppers.
And now, the American exhibits, on opening day. (Most American visitors did not arrive until the second or third day.) Compare and contrast.
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