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US businessmen face hurdles in deals with Havana

Milton A. Vescovacci

Milton A. Vescovacci
GrayRobinson, P.A.


BEIJING, Feb. 9 (Xinhuanet) — US businesses are eyeing potential markets in Cuba, after moves to normalise bilateral ties. But will some entrepeneurs. A report in courtesy with AFP News Agency.

When Jon Fay heard that the US was easing trade and travel rules to Cuba, he decided to take his planes to new heights. He and his wife own a charter company in southwest Florida and are now looking to add Cuba to their destinations.

With only 90 miles between Cuba and Florida’s coast, many here want to tap into a market that’s been all but closed to Americans for over 50 years.

While tourism to Cuba is still banned, those visiting for religious, education or family reasons are among 12 categories of travellers to have restrictions eased.

The changes also open a door for US companies to do business with the island’s emerging private sector.

“Florida stands to benefit from many different sectors of the economy that are in need in Cuba. So, for example, building materials, potentially construction, infrastructure, agriculture,” said Milton Vescovacci, Miami-Based partner at Grayrobinson.

Others aren’t celebrating just yet.

Jay Brickman works in a company that ships food and farm products to the island, which were already partly exempted from trade sanctions. He says a lot has to be sorted out before trade with Cuba can increase.

“The key word is ‘eased.’ It’s important to understand that the embargo is still in place. In the short-run we will not see much impact. Little by little, as people understand how to work within the rules of both countries, we should see an increase in trade,” Brickman said.

Not everyone in Florida plans to do business with the Communist island though – among the local Cuban-American community, such talks still stir up passions.

After a first round of historical talks in Havana, the US and Cuba admit they’ll have to overcome deep rifts.

But while the road to normalize ties will likely be a bumpy one, many US businesses are warming up their engines ready for take-off in trade.