Japan sees rising business interest in Cuba with thaw
Japanese business interest in Cuba is likely to intensify because of the
thaw in US-Cuban relations, Japan’s foreign minister said in an
interview published Thursday as he arrived for a visit.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s stay is scheduled to include a meeting
with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez.
Kishida said Japan “supports and welcomes” the start of negotiations
between Washington and Havana on restoring relations after decades of
enmity. He said this thaw would “positively influence relations with Japan.”
“Taking into account the improvement in relations between Cuba and the
United States, not only the government but Japanese companies will
further increase the interest in Cuba,” he said in the interview with
Granma, the official Communist Party newspaper.
For now, it is hard for Japanese companies to do business with Cuba
because in doing so they face the prospect of sanctions from the United
States under the US trade embargo imposed in 1962, said Ken Okaniwa, the
foreign minister’s spokesman.
Okaniwa said bilateral trade now stands at just 35 million dollars a
year, two thirds of it Japanese sales to Cuba.
Cuba exports tobacco, coffee and fish to Japan, and mainly buys Japanese
machinery, he added.
Cuba has been actively courting foreign investment to spur the island’s
growth, which has remained sluggish despite reforms aimed at a gradual
opening of the economy after decades of Soviet-style policies.
In the most dramatic development to date, Cuba’s President Raul Castro
and US President Barack Obama announced on December 17 they would open
talks to restore diplomatic relations severed more than 50 years ago.
The United States has since eased some travel and trade restrictions,
but lifting the US embargo requires action by the Republican-controlled
Cuba has long blamed the embargo for its economic ills.
Source: Japan sees rising business interest in Cuba with thaw – Yahoo