Exploring the Cuba opportunity
By Dana Niland
International and local experts in the investment and trade fields came together to discuss opportunities, challenges, and procedures for business in Cuba at the Cuba Demystified business forum in Jamaica.
JAMPRO (Jamaica’s promotion arm), PricewaterhouseCoopers and NCB Capital Markets hosted the event, which explored the processes necessary for successful export to the Cuban market, the Jamaican products that are in highest demand in Cuba, and the major distributors to the market.
According to JAMPRO, the Jamaican private sector was urged to take advantage of the growth of the Cuban economy, primarily through special arrangements for financing with the EXIM Bank, cooperation between the ports of Kingston and Mariel, and the CARICOM-Cuba Trade & Economic Cooperation Agreement.
“The Government, through the EXIM’s Bank facility with Cuba, greatly attenuates the risk of timely payment for goods traded with Cuba,” said Anthony Hylton, Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Investment, and Commerce. “However, the time has come to consider the expansion of this line of credit to include services and to increase the volume of the credit line.”
Hylton also said that he anxiously awaits the day that the US embargo against Cuba is lifted, and that he will continue to move the resolution against the embargo in Parliament.
President of JAMPRO Diane Edwards said that the agency is working to develop the Cuban market because of the opportunities that the private sector could experience in the neighboring Caribbean country.
“It is critical for JAMPRO to act now and support any initiative that creates opportunities for Jamaican companies to have a presence in Cuba. While the embargo still exists and there are other issues that may prove challenging for Jamaican exporters, it is important for us to lay the groundwork and continue to gradually increase exports to that market, so that we will already have a foothold when conditions improve.”
JAMPRO has undertaken a program of initiatives aimed at heightening Jamaica’s presence in Cuba through its Cuban Market Development Plan, and is developing strategic partnerships with government and private bodies to further the influence of Brand Jamaica and Cuba.
Director of the Advisory Services Department of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Wilfred Baghaloo, and CEO of NCB Capital Markets Limited, Steven Gooden, also offered their support to the initiative, and expressed belief that all Jamaican companies should seek to grow their businesses through other markets.