United States Cuba Policy & Business Blog

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Havana Trade Fair Wrap Up

Cuba’s imports overall will decrease by a third due to the economic crisis and a cash crunch it is experiencing. For the U.S. this means exports will be down as well. Most of the American businesses still plied forward though putting their best face and prices forward. Deals to sell agricultural products are still possible. Even with Cuba’s trade contraction, there will still be opportunities to sell. Cuba needs the food to feed its people and visitors and the American advantage – geographic proximity and quality are ever present.

I was interviewed by CNBC and was curious as to what was left out of the story. While explaining I was working at the trade fair with food clients, I discussed the telecommunications situation and President Obama’s initiative. I told the reporter the key to getting U.S. telecom business activated in Cuba will ultimately require Cuba’s removal from the terror list. I walked the reporter through the legal machinations the designation triggers and how Cuba being on the terror list provokes the high cost of long distance calls – why should a three minute call to Cuba from the U.S. cost a slice a pizza and a soda? It also provokes the uncertain legal and business environment that makes any telecom deal a question mark on the Cuban side. And believe me, the island really needs to upgrade its internet capacity. And most Cuban Americans I know with family would like to call their loved ones more often and at less cost- TM