WASHINGTON— Once the U.S. lifts its sanctions on Cuba, there will be important areas for trade and U.S. investments will be convenient to the extent that they are consistent with the national interests and sovereignty of the island.
This was the view expressed by the President of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, Orlando Hernández Guillén, who is on a working visit to Washington as part of a delegation led by Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca.
The Cuban delegation is set to meet with businesspeople and executives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today, to take stock of progress in normalizing relations made to date, and identify continuing obstacles. Guillén noted that the institution, which represents more than three million businesses and is the largest of its kind in the world, has expressed its position against the blockade for over 15 years.
The Cuban official also highlighted that a large number of U.S. businesses are aware of the potential of the Cuban market, given the nature of the country and the conditions that have been created since the triumph of the Revolution: stability, professional training and developments in key sectors such as tourism, pharmaceuticals, energy and oil exploration.
“The United States is the natural market for our country,” Guillén stated, both in terms of Cuban exports and U.S. imports. He stressed that before the Torricelli Act was passed in 1992, the island traded with U.S. companies in third countries to a value of more than $700 million dollars.
He noted the recent approval of a license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to the tractor manufacturing company Cleber LLC, which seeks to establish itself in the Mariel Special Development Zone. “It is a first step but we are positively motivated and hope it becomes a point of reference.”
Guillén sought to reassure those who express concern regarding possible negative impacts on the island, should the blockade end and U.S. trade and investment with the island expand. He stressed that the changes that have been introduced in the country, especially the Law on Foreign Investment, require each case to be analyzed to ensure it is consistent with national interests and respects the island’s sovereignty. “These are the same conditions that will be present when the North Americans invest.”
He also explained that Cuba will maintain diversified trade, and will not turn its back on countries which have been its main suppliers, whether in Latin America, Asia or Europe.