Posted on 8/10/2016

6 Reasons to consider doing business in Cuba

Noel Nevshehir

The U.S. embargo to Cuba is unlikely to be lifted anytime soon — especially given the importance of Florida and its highly-vocal, anti-Castro Cuban constituency in this November’s presidential elections. In addition, the Republicans are in no mood to credit the Obama Administration with restoring diplomatic relations with Havana, let alone anything else.

Furthermore, despite being a remnant of the Cold War era, it is highly probable that the embargo will remain in place until 2020 considering the anti-trade stance of both presidential candidates. In the meantime, however, China is cozying up to Raul Castro in response to U.S. efforts to contain Beijing’s territorial ambitions in the disputed islands of the South China Sea. From a geopolitical and military standpoint, this may force Washington’s hand to open up trade and investment relations with our sworn enemy 90 miles south of Florida sooner than expected. Defense strategists do not want to risk another Cuban missile crisis this time around with an increasingly chauvinistic China whose rise our nation would like to contain. 

A few big players are already establishing a foothold in Cuba, including Caterpillar, Ford Motor Co., Bank of America, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.

While many risks remain, if this ends up accelerating our economic opening to Cuba, U.S. companies should familiarize themselves with new opportunities in Cuba. Below are six reasons to consider doing business in Cuba:

  1. Notwithstanding the U.S. embargo, exceptions have been made that could allow U.S. companies to export certain products to Cuba such as agricultural, medical, telecommunications, and building and construction materials. 
  2. Cuba has begun to liberalize its $80 billion economy and thaw its U.S. relations to advance its integration into the global economy.
  3. Cuba is a nation with an especially high demand for Michigan-made products, services, and technologies, including: automotive parts, design, engineering and manufacturing services, food and food processing equipment, health care and medical devices, IT and information communication technologies, construction, alternative energy and logistics.
  4. The Mariel Port, west of Havana, a capitalistic enclave which serves as Cuba’s major free-trade zone, will facilitate mutually-beneficial trade and investment relations between our two nations. It also provides direct connections to Tampa, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; New Orleans, Houston; and Mexico.
  5. Cuba has the highest literacy rate in the Western hemisphere and possesses one of the best educational systems in the world, graduating a high number of PhDs in the math, medical, scientific and other technical disciplines. 
  6. Cuba is a nation of  11 million people, 80 percent-plus are college educated, there is a low unemployment rate of 2.7 percent and the nation is home to 47 universities. 

Interested in learning more about what Cuba has to offer? Join Automation Alley’s exploratory Trade Mission to Cuba, Oct. 31-Nov. 4. The mission will take participants to the annual Havana International Fair, Cuba’s largest annual multi-sector trade fair, which last year drew more than 1,000 companies from 70 countries. Participation in this mission is limited to 10 companies. The deadline to register is Sept. 23, 2016. Click here for more information. 

About the Author

Noel Nevshehir | Automation Alley

As director of Automation Alley’s International Business Services, Noel Nevshehir’s responsibilities include assisting local companies in expanding their markets overseas through global trade and export and helping companies from around the world set up their operations in Michigan.


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