Cuba Sends Delegation on US Business Tour

First test for Trump with regards to Cuba

By Cafe Fuerte

Raul Castro with Thomas Donahue, the head of the US Chamber of Commerce, during his recent visit to Cuba.

HAVANA TIMES — The challenges facing new US President Donald Trump are many, but within 24 hours of his inauguration, his new administration is coming face-to-face with its first test related to Cuba.

On Saturday, a delegation of Cuban government officials from the business sector landed in the US on a business trip which will last until February 3rd.  They hope to get an idea of “the opportunities for business and foreign investment between the two countries,” reported the Cuban Embassy in Washington.

It was also announced that the visitors are also looking “to promote existing opportunities in Cuba’s maritime sector and ports, especially at the new Mariel deep water port.”

The delegation is comprised of Ana Teresa Igarza, the Mariel Special Development Zone’s general manager; Jose Leonard Sosa Barrios, the deputy director of Mariel Container Terminal Ltd.; Eradis Gonzalez de la Pena, president of Universal Warehouses Ltd.; Rene Rolando Fernandez, director of the Ministry of Transport’s Sea and River Transport Department, as well as other Cuban officials.

Visits and memos

The government’s official statement, published in Granma newspaper, refers to these government officials as “business leaders” and “executives”.

The delegation is set to take part in a comprehensive program, including visits to six different US ports, as well as signing the Memorandum of Understanding between Cuba’s National Port Administration and the Florida and Alabama Port Authorities. One of the places they will visit for this purpose is Palm Beach port, which is planning on reviving its trade activity with the island.

The statement announced that the Cuban visitors will hold meetings with executives from the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Association of Port Authorities, as well as exchanges with congress people, state authorities and business people from a wide range of sectors.

With Raul Castro

The Cuban delegation’s trip is taking place just a week after the president of the US Chamber of Commerce, Thomas Donohue, met with President Raul Castro in Havana.

Donohue and the Chamber of Commerce have been key elements of the new relationship championed by outgoing President Barack Obama, asking for the embargo to finally be lifted and to extend commercial ties, funding projects and investment opportunities.

Donohue was also in favor of Havana signing agreements with powerful US companies, such as General Electric and Procter & Gamble, trying to establish ties before Trump reached the White House.

In the face of Trump’s presidency, uncertainty has become widespread about the course of events relating to trade and investment on the island. The new president has promised to do away with some of Obama’s executive orders and to reconsider the US’ relationship with Raul Castro’s government.

Preserving what Obama achieved

US experts and businessmen think that the strategy for this new era will be to try and hold onto the advances made by Obama in the thawing process and to prevent Trump from taking them apart.

During this trip, it will be important to see whether the new Commerce Secretary, multi-millionaire Wilbur Ross, is willing to meet with Cuban visitors or whether he’ll refuse to have any type of contact with them.

The Obama administration was busy signing agreements with the Cuban government up until the very end. On Thursday, with less than 24 hours until Trump’s inauguration as president, Cuban and US representatives signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Plant and Animal Health.

The bilateral agreement was signed by the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Departments and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service from the US Department of Agriculture, with the aim to contribute towards the prevention of introducing and spreading quarantine pests, animal and plant disease agents and vectors in both countries.

13 thoughts on “Cuba Sends Delegation on US Business Tour

  • You are right most investors so far have just seen their money and the goods sent disappear . Even the police are in on it. Our group has given up on Cuba at this time, as have many others. There is no point throwing money away

  • As a person of Russian heritage and liniage it is nice to be considered an asset rather than a liability and President Trump should be thanked by all oppressed like myself who stayed true to their Guidos teachings of being good citezens and accepting the path God put before them as I have , it is not easy to be Russian decendant but nothing truly good and worthwhile comes easily.I did not turn my back and pretend to be some thing else during the toughest days of my life and so I have pride , straight pride like all Russians globally.
    The President Trump executive orders to remove criminals also makes me happy to hear as all Cubans know and as an adopted Cuban enjoy a country that has since the revolution been successful at keeping criminals out. Terrorism is not acceptable , and extremism is not acceptable , systems that align themselves but stay true to their revolutionary heritage can and should move forward together .
    That said those long lasting friendships must be recognized and respected and that goes with out saying. Their is much to do and food production is critical as oceans are diminished as places like Fukyoushima pump out 600 tons daily , fight fire with fire on that one that is probably the biggest problem on the board.
    Thank you

  • The charcoal delivery to the US on the 18th of JAN. 2017, where was it delivered?

  • I fear that the insanity in the US hasn’t begun yet.

  • Like Trump, you don’t understand what the term “Fake News” means. But for giggles, tell me which part of my comment is fake?

  • Savage “me first” trade ethics is suddenly back in vogue. If the Castros were looking for a partner with altruistic intentions, he just left town.

  • Totally correct in your assessment. The question is, will the regime accept this, or think they can continue with this devastation of a system, or whatever anyone want’s to call it. I might add, we in the US are having our fill of insanity.

  • Wonderful propaganda, Moses. You must love Fake News.

  • Cuba is not ready for big investment. What they want resembles more foreign aid versus business. American Corporations best to keep investor money safe and let Europe and China burn some cash. Legal protection and free flow of capital needed to attract real investment. A good start is working out deal on nationalized assets. The old claims can be settled in exchange for tax credits and development rights that can be traded. I do not expect Trump to close the door that Obama opened. But Trump will not be as nice.

  • This road trip will amount to little more than a group of Castro government officials on a junket to the US to bring back cell phones and ladies handbags for family members. Significant capital investment in Cuba will first come from Miami or it won’t come at all.

  • Moses, although your wild speculations are always ‘just that’… wild speculations, let’s first wait and see how the Trump regime receives the delegation of Cuban government officials on US soil. The fact that Raul has sent them to the US is a positive step forward, and certainly, a necessary first step in helping everyone calibrate Trump’s position on Cuba now going forward too.

  • Let’s be frank. Cuba needs US capital investment. The US businesses willing to take the risk of investing in Cuba will likely want to be duly compensated for that risk. So the real question is: Is the Castro regime desperate enough to give away what it will take to attract US investment? Probably not.

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