HAVANA, Nov. 26th With increased focus on foreign investment opportunities in Cuba, the Cuban foreign trade and investment minister was in Canada last week to promote new ventures, but a former Canadian ambassador to Cuba says Canadian companies haven’t yet taken full advantage of new opportunities.
HAVANA, Sept. 16 A small trade group focused on promoting American business ties with Cuba says Commerce Department Secretary Penny Pritzker, and possibly Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, are planning to visit Cuba this fall.
John Kavulich of the U.S. Cuba Trade and Economic Council said Pritzker’s travel to the island nation “perhaps” will take place in early November in conjunction with the Havana International Trade Fair.
The Commerce Department declined to comment about Pritzker’s possible travel plans. But during keynote remarks at an event sponsored by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Tampa International airport, Pritzker said she anticipated regulations allowing U.S. companies to participate in upgrading Cuba’s telecom infrastructure and Internet and consumer communications devices.
In April, Pritzker said she would lead a delegation to Cuba as soon as the two countries have normalized relations and opened embassies in each other’s countries.
While Pritzker’s schedule is likely up to her and her alone, Kavulich used his release to argue that she should travel either in December in January, and that she should attend with representatives of the International Trade Commission and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. By that time, he said, the Cuban government may have issued regulations approving purchases relating to product exports and imports first proposed by the U.S. in December when Obama announced the historic change to U.S.-Cuba relations.
“A visit by Secretary Pritzker should only arise subsequent to the government of the Republic of Cuba having purchased products and permitted the provision of services as outlined in December 2014, not as a means of seeking the purchase of products and provision of services,” Kavulich said. “The visit needs to be a reward, not an inducement.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, who won a seat in the House of Representatives in 2014, filed the Cuba Trade Act of 2015, which would remove restrictions on American businesses from trading with Cuba and allow Americans to travel to the island.
According to a USA Today report, Emmer decided to pursue a full repeal of the embargo after he visited Cuba in June, where he met with Cuban government officials and other citizens who live on the island.
“I understand there’s a lot of pain on both sides of this issue that goes back many decades, something that a kid from Minnesota is not going to necessarily be able to understand,” Emmer told a USA Today reporter.
“But I believe this is in the best interests of the Cuban people. This isn’t about the Cuban government — it’s about people on the street looking for more opportunity and to improve their quality of life.”
The U.S. embargo on Cuba has been in effect for 55 years.
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