Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Floridians who want to do business in Cuba must first build relationships
BY DOREEN HEMLOCK
Sun Sentinel

To do U.S. business with Cuba, focus first on the island’s priorities
and culture, lawyers and entrepreneurs said last week at a Hollywood
conference of the Association for Corporate Growth, a group focused on
mergers and acquisitions.

The group discussed opportunities and obstacles stemming from the Obama
administration’s decision to re-establish diplomatic ties and ease
restrictions on commerce with the communist-led island of 11 million
residents 90 miles from Florida.

Cuba has spelled out through laws and rules what it wants from foreign
business: investment, technology, jobs, managerial skills, more
renewable energy and projects that help reduce imports. Panelists
advised potential business partners to make sure their venture fits into
that framework and to expect Havana will be cautious after five decades
of Cold War politics.

U.S. companies too often look at Cuba as a market open to their goods
and services and not a cash-strapped nation slowly shifting from central
planning to a mixed economic model, speakers said.

That misconception can come back to bite U.S. businesses exploring even
the limited activities allowed under the U.S. trade embargo that remains
in effect against the island.

“Your receivable might not get paid when you need it to be paid,” if
your venture is not a priority for Cuba, said Olga Pina, an attorney at
Shutts & Bowen specializing in international trade.

Showing respect for Cuba’s culture is critical to succeeding in a
business venture there, said entrepreneur Saul Berenthal, 71, who was
born on the island, built companies in the United States and now is
working on what could be the first U.S. factory in the special economic
development zone of Mariel. His factory would make small tractors to
help private Cuban farmers boost food production, which would in turn
help the nation reduce its food imports.

“A business in Cuba is not an economic entity. It has to accomplish a
social and cultural purpose,” said Berenthal, who has been visiting Cuba
for more than a decade, arranged exchanges with U.S. universities and
earned preliminary approval from Cuba for the factory. He named the
company’s first Cuban tractor model “Oggun” after the god or “orisha” of
metal in the Afro-Cuban Santeria religion.

The five-decade-old U.S. trade embargo, which can only be lifted by
Congress, limits U.S. companies to selling food, medicines,
agricultural-related products, some telecommunications services and some
travel services.

As the embargo is eased or lifted, opportunities will open for call
centers, logistics and other service

businesses that can employ Cuba’s educated workforce, said financier Hy
Vaupen of Vaupen Financial Advisors.

There’s also potential for mining of marble, nickel, limestone and other
materials and for heavy industry and construction, said Cuba-born Teo
Babun, managing partner at BG Consultants and known for his studies on
Cuban infrastructure and trade.

But developing opportunities will take homework, sensitivity to island
ways and building trust, said Richard Graves, a marina consultant from
Fort Lauderdale who has visited Cuba three times this year.

“You just don’t do business,” said Graves. “You have to build a
relationship.”

Source: Floridians who want to do business in Cuba must first build
relationships | Bradenton Herald –
www.bradenton.com/news/business/article45030999.html


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