It may still be a Communist country, but Cuba’s newly restored embassy in the United States is wasting no time in preparing American capitalists to tap opportunities in the market of 11 million people.
Its head of economic affairs will meet with a group of influential Atlanta companies including Delta Air Lines Inc., United Parcel Service Inc., Georgia Power Co. and others Monday, May 22, to describe current opportunities stemming from the new climate of openness between the countries.
In an all-day roundtable hosted by law firm Taylor English Duma LLP, Rubén Ramos Arrieta, minister counselor responsible for the embassy’s economic and trade office, will describe Cuba’s investment needs and explain procedures by which companies can operate there legally.
Since normalization of relations earlier this year, both sides have relaxed some travel restrictions. Cruise lines from the U.S. began arriving in Cuba in earlier this month, and Delta and other American carriers have applied to start commercial air service there from a variety of American cities including Atlanta.
Some are predicting than an influx of travelers will lead to a hotel room shortage this year, showing the need for investment in hotels, infrastructure like airports and ports, as well as other sectors.
“I think the appetite is ripe. It is ripe and it is rich. I believe from just my interactions that they are poised and ready to embrace cross-investment opportunities,” said Deitra Crawley, a partner at Taylor English.
She said the idea for this forum came after the World Affairs Council of Atlanta’s detailed “Cuba: Myths and Realities” conference last year, where experts including Mr. Ramos helped companies untangle the web of conflicting information about Cuban market entry.
But as former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez noted at the event, Americans should avoid being overzealous: A more than 50-year-old trade embargo remains in effect that requires congressional action to overturn. The exchange in goods is now largely confined to exempted sectors: medical devices, agricultural goods and telecommunications equipment — or those items travelers can bring back from their trips.
“The only thing that that session did not provide (and was not designed to provide) was one-on-one with the minister,” Ms. Crawley told Global Atlanta.
She kept in touch with Mr. Ramos and was later asked to put together the roundtable, which will also draw Joel Lago Olivia, first secretary of the Cuban embassy in Washington.
She noted that the event should help “remove the mystery” around a regulatory environment that can confound even the most sophisticated firms.
“This forum will give companies, whether they’re large or small, the opportunity to ask those questions that you wouldn’t be able to get from reading,” she said.
The event is by invitation only.
Confirmed companies include:
· Delta Air Lines
· TME Enterprises
· Diaz Foods
· AJC International
· HJ Russell
· Rosser International
· Georgia Power Company
· The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Learn more or contract Ms. Crawley at https://www.taylorenglish.com/people-Deitra-Crawley.html