‘Ship to Cuba’ option shows up on Amazon.com

havana-live-amazon-logoHAVANA, 3 Mar. (Reuters) – Less than three months after U.S. and Cuban officials agreed to restore diplomatic ties, Amazon.com Inc appears to be laying the groundwork to ship packages to Cuba.

A “ship to Cuba” button was seen on Monday on Amazon’s website by Reuters correspondents in Havana. But the option does not appear to work and reporters got an error message when they tried to order an item and ship it to Cuba. “Due to export controls and economic sanctions laws and regulations, we are unable to process transactions from your current location,” Amazon said in the message.

There was no such option available on Amazon’s site in a U.S.-based search from San Francisco. It is unclear how quickly Amazon, the largest U.S. online retailer, could start shipping items to Cuba. Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But logistics experts said the appearance of the option suggested the company was working on it.

“It probably does mean they are testing,” said Rob Howard, chief executive officer of San Francisco-based logistics firm Grand Junction. Amazon often launches new services without much fanfare, preferring to first work out the kinks with a small pool of eligible users, he said. U.S. and Cuban officials have held two rounds of talks following the Dec. 17 announcement that they would work toward restoring diplomatic ties severed more than 50 years ago.
Cuba has also signaled its readiness for faster progress. Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has family ties to Cuba. His adoptive father Miguel Bezos was born there and came to the United States at the age of 15.