US and Cuba to Discuss Trade in Washington Next Week

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker (L) and Cuban Minister for Foreign Trade Rodrigo Malmierca in Havana, Cuba, Oct. 7, 2015. voanews.com
U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker (L) and Cuban Minister for Foreign Trade Rodrigo Malmierca in Havana, Cuba, Oct. 7, 2015. voanews.com

HAVANA TIMES — The United States and Cuba will hold next week a second round of its regulatory dialogue, with the participation of US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, announced the Treasury Department on Wednesday.

The meeting, to be held on February 17 & 18 in Washington, will be attended by officials from the Treasury and Commerce Departments, as well as experts from the State Department, reported dpa news.

In the meeting, the officials will discuss “regulatory changes implemented on January 27, affecting exports and financing of certain assets and services authorized for Cuba and challenges for US companies doing business on the island.”

The Cuban delegation will discuss “the relevant parts of the Cuban economic system, including the importation of goods and services and financial transactions,” the Treasury said in its statement.

According to Pritzker, the second round of the US-Cuba Regulatory Dialogue will allow for the participants to “better understand the way in which our governments and economies can work together in support of the Cuban people.”

“Our successive steps to amend the Regulation for Control of Cuban Assets are empowering the Cuban people,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

Malmierca will be the first Cuban Trade Minister to visit the United States in decades.

The Cuban minister will also take part on Feb. 16 in a meeting with US business people at the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Attending will be Carlos Gutierrez, former Secretary of Commerce from 2005 to 2009 under President George W. Bush.

Gutierrez, of Cuban origin, was appointed Tuesday to head the US-Cuba Business Council, an affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce.

In late January, the US government announced more measures easing aspects of the embargo on Cuba on travel, trade and finance. These changes will not cause the total lifting of the economic and commercial embargo on the island, and that only the Congress, controlled by Republicans, can do.

Cuba-US bilateral relations resumed in July 2015, after more than half a century of disruption and ideological confrontation.

15 thoughts on “US and Cuba to Discuss Trade in Washington Next Week

  • Annual Cuban exports total an amount equal to the transaction totals of a medium-sized city in the US. There is no practical reason a cabinet-level meeting should take place except with respect to international protocols. In as much as Cuba has very little to sell, and no money to buy, trade talks with Cuba are mostly one-sided discussions about trade credit. Despite Castro bootlickers love for proclaiming the low national debt of Cuba, it would seem that as a beggar nation, Cuba has no choice but to beg, borrow or steal their way to repairing their economy.

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    • How empathetic of you, Moses. The Cuban people owe you a debt of gratitude for your comments. Stop thinking about the Cuba of today… start thinking of the potential Cuba of tomorrow. Is it impossible for you to think progressively? Definitely still a ‘glass half empty’ mind set. What are you afraid of? That Cuba might actually prosper one day?

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      • As long as the Castros remain in power, prosperity will come only for the Castro oligarchy.

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        • I completely disagree. We’re already seeing a trickle-down effect and a budding middle-class developing in Cuba too. And that’s before significant changes in Cuba / U.S. economic relations have even transpired.

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          • We are talking apples and baseballs. Yes, there are increasingly more people with more money. But there are even MORE people with less money. Prices for everything are going up and salaries are not. On the other hand, Cuban GDP is stagnant. The 4% growth for 2015 as reported by the Castros is the largest percentage for all of Latin America. Do you really believe the Cuban economy grew that much?

          • Without even having to check your figures, it’s easy for me to agree with you. But once again, you’re stuck in the mud of the present without any foresight for the assured future economic development of Cuba that will most certainly happen… post embargo. You also touched on something that leaves me with mixed emotions… the fact that as prosperity increases for some in Cuba… there will also be a significant percentage of the population that could be left behind… where real poverty could then potentially ensue…similar to the scenario that has already played out across much of the U.S. due to America’s brand of unbridled capitalism at the expense of the less fortunate. But I have faith in the Cuban government to insure this catastrophe is avoided and not repeated in Cuba as their economic recovery begins to ramp up.

          • Your hope for a utopian Cuba is charming. But if the Castros had any plan to lessen the price of prosperity that will be paid by the poor, mostly Black Cubans, they would have already implemented that plan whilst the disparity is still small. On the contrary, Cubans are not by nature “socialists”. Were that the case, they would have created a social stratum in Miami very different than what exists in that Cuban-run city today. Just look at Havana today. The differences between the Haves and the Have-nots is obvious. How they dress, where they live, what they drive and don’t drive, the restaurants they eat at, etc. Cubans are predatory consumers of the first order. I agree that post-embargo, Cuba will prosper somewhat. But what you describe is something out of a Star Trek (original series) episode. The Cuban reality will be much different.

          • “Your hope for a utopian Cuba is charming.”

            Thank you. Perhaps your U.S. government might once again achieve the same for your country too…instead of the the total cluster f**k chit show that it’s now become. Watching the Republican debate last night, it was more than a bit ironic for me to realize just how much of an issue America’s fading civil society and dying middle-class has become for all Americans. Very sad.

          • I can’t begin to explain nor defend what has happened to the Republican party. The bigger picture is that democracy does not guarantee perfection. However, Castro-style socialism does guarantee failure.

          • The problem with this criticism by you is that the society you would like to impose on Cuba would be 20 times worse for the have-nots and 20 times better for the haves. And the haves – will be the same people you criticize now.

          • Spot on, dani.

          • I would not like to impose anything on Cuba. I would like that Cubans themselves, through free, open and independent multiparty elections, would be able to select the system of government and their leadership. If, after electing a President, Cubans are as you predict, 20 times worse, then like any other democracy, will only have themselves to blame.

    • Gordon, you seem like a genuinely nice guy. You are obviously very proud of your familial ties to Cuba. Are you aware that the mega-corporation Komatsu has long had a presence in Cuba? http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201505040048
      The press release from Caterpillar in your link is far from a big deal unless you think that the Castros are sitting around Punto Cero with suitcases full of cash, waiting for someone to sell bulldozers to Cuba.

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  • This article actually highlights the vast difference between Obama’s decent approach to Cuba and the Bush dynasty’s indecent approach to Cuba. Obama’s Secretary of Commerce, the billionaire Penny Pritzker, actually displayed much care and respect for the Cuban people when she was in Cuba back in October. George W. Bush’s Secretary of Commerce from 2005-09 was the Cuban-born, anti-Cuban zealot Carlos Gutierrez who, amazingly, was named last week to head the “U.S.-Cuba Business Council.” Oh, sure. We are now told that many extremely wealthy Bush-financiers — Gutierrez, Miguel Fernandez, and even the Fanjul sugar-monoply family (first in Cuba and after 1959 in the U. S.) have had a fantastic change-of-heart, meaning instead of destroying revolutionary Cuba and re-capturing it, they all-of-a-sudden have decided to deal decently and honestly with it. Gutierrez now advocates trade with Cuba. WOW. Is that so the Fox can get back in the hen-house? The previous Bush administration stacked his “Cuban-Latin American team” only with anti-Cuban zealots — Gutierrez, Otto Reich, Roger Noriega, etc. I remember when back-to-back hurricanes destroyed over 200,000 Cuban homes and many countries came to the aid of the Cubans…but Bush put Gutierrez in charge of the U. S. response. Gutierrez first said the U. S. would contribute X-amount of dollars, but he was only teasing. He said the money would not go to the Cuban government but only to dissidents, whom the Bush extremists were already using in their regime-change schemes. Then Gutierrez held more news conferences, each time increasing the amount “the U. S. people” were willing to donate to help the ravished Cubans but always teasing them with the caveat that only dissidents would be allowed to distribute the U. S. tax dollars, which, of course, never reached the Cuban people. So, like a fox getting back in the hen-house, Carlos Gutierrez is put in charge of “U.S.-Cuban trade.” WOW! The right-wing propagandists in the U. S. will deny that Gutierrez raided the hen-house as one of the Bush dynasty’s self-serving anti-Cuban zealots, but I expect non-proselytized Americans have memories of Gutierrez shamefully using his power as Bush’s Secretary of Commerce to mock the Cuban people.

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