Canadian companies trying to expand their Cuban environmental protection and tourism markets are worried about future U.S. competition, said Kevin Smith, a sales consultant for Pol-E-Mar Inc., an Ottawa-based oil spill clean-up and water filtration equipment company, which has had operations in Cuba for two years.

A former Canadian coast guard officer, Mr. Smith told GlobalFax last week that the potential is great for U.S. companies to capture much of Canada’s $2 billion per year business with Cuba.

The U.S. has had a trade embargo against Cuba since the early 1960s and the Helms-Burton Act discourages U.S. and foreign companies from investing there.

Mr. Smith was interviewed while attending the Third International Convention on Environment and Development in Havana on behalf of Pol-E-Mar. He said that he was at the conference to meet with its Cuban partner, Cesigma, a state agency, to discuss further sales of skimming equipment to handle industrial waste-water being dumped into Havana Bay.

He also met with the Cuban equivalent of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Varadero Beach Authority, a representative of the island’s most prestigious international tourist beach.

“If anyone needs oil spill insurance and water treatment, it’s Cuba,”  he noted, referring to the high volume of oil cargo traffic in Caribbean waters that could be disastrous for area tourism in the event of a spill.

Havana Bay, he added, is one of the most polluted in the world, but clean-up measures are being taken by various Cuban government agencies with the cooperation of international companies such as Pol-E-Mar.

Pol-E-Mar, which provided clean-up equipment for the Exxon Valdez and Gulf War oil spills, sells its equipment directly to agencies such as Cesigma.

The Canadian company may make more money selling to other countries, Mr. Smith said, but with virtually no competition for its services in Cuba, it has high hopes for continued success in the communist country.

Ten-year-old Pol-E-Mar does environmental assessments, sells water treatment equipment and keeps up with the maintenance of its products and social programs in the locations it provides services worldwide.

Its main customers include the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Office of Foreign Disasters, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees and state-owned and private maritime organizations and oil companies globally.

Mr. Smith also does private consulting for various water treatment projects internationally. He may be reached at (613) 723-1541 or  HYPERLINK mailto:polemar@achilles.net mailto:polemar@achilles.net