Cuba makes Havana Club plea to US

havana-live-havana_clubHAVANA, June 22  The Cuban government has called on the United States to allow the Franco-Cuban Havana Club Holding to sell its product into America, claiming that the import ban continues to breach World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

Speaking at a meeting of the WTO’s disputes settlement body, Cuban diplomat ambassador Anayansi Rodríguez Camejo, Cuba permanent representative to the United Nations office in Geneva, argued that the restriction flouted a 2002 WTO ruling – the US supports the rights of Bacardi to sell Havana Club-branded drinks in America.

The long-running dispute is one issue requiring resolution for the recent US-Cuba rapprochement to deliver normal trading relations. But WTO speech indicates that the Havana Club dispute is far from over. “Cuba has made countless efforts…” demanding US concessions for the Pernod Ricard joint venture, said the diplomat, but the import block “remains intact and in force.”

Cuba could in theory apply for authorisation to levy retaliatory duties on US imports, but given the paucity of US-Cuba trade that is unlikely.