Lifting of Cuban trade embargo will open opportunities for Jamaican businesses — Ffolkes Abrahams


FFOLKES ABRAHAMAS... lifting of the embargo will open the door to increased trade, investment and business opportunities for manufacturers, service providers and agribusiness

STATE Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams says the anticipated lifting of the United States (US) trade embargo against Cuba will dramatically expand the regional marketplace for businesses and organisations, particularly in Jamaica.

"Lifting of the embargo will open the door to increased trade, investment and business opportunities for manufacturers, service providers and agribusiness, and of course, for our exporters," she said.

Ffolkes Abrahams was addressing an Exporting to Cuba Workshop, hosted by Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on Wednesday.

She noted that Jamaica has had a long history of trade and cultural exchange with Cuba, and in light of this expected development, JAMPRO has embarked on a programme of activities to safeguard its close relations, long-term commitment and sustained efforts with the Cuban market.

As such, over the next six months, JAMPRO will be pursuing a market development plan for Cuba to take advantage of the increased economic prospects, Ffolkes Abrahams disclosed.

Key elements of the plan include market research and intelligence gathering; inward and outward trade missions; sensitisation session for exporters; commercial presence in Cuba; and development of, and capitalising on existing partnership agreements.

Pointing to specific areas for partnership and exploration with Cuba, the state minister noted that there is an immediate prospect to partner with Cuba to attract investors in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, particularly for multiple language facilities.

She noted as well that the close proximity of Jamaica, Cuba, the United States and The Bahamas to one other creates an opportunity for an attractive cruise ship package to be marketed to a niche segment of the tourism market, particularly those tourists interested in culture/community tourism.

The state minister further pointed to Jamaica's world-class training programmes; the provision of efficient energy sources; and the supply of scarce foods, such as meat to Cuba, as potential areas for partnership between both countries.

In his remarks, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to Jamaica, Bernardo Guanche Hernández, said he is pleased that this impending development will allow both countries to deepen long-standing relations.

"Given the deep and excellent ties between our two Governments and people, we are seeking to further strengthen those relations in terms of business and bilateral trade," he said.

In the meantime, president of JAMPRO, Diane Edwards, said the agency has sought to understand the market and forge and maintain strategic alliances, which are critical to doing business in Cuba.

"In penetrating the market, JAMPRO has developed alliances with key stakeholders, including the Caribbean Export Development Agency, the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, the Export Import Bank, the Cuban Embassy in Jamaica, and the Jamaican Embassy in Cuba, which are critical to establishing a presence in the market," she added.

She said that given JAMPRO's experience and the potential opportunities, the agency saw the need to share this information, through the workshop, with all relevant stakeholders and companies who have explored the market.

The workshop aimed to empower participants with the tools they need to export to the Cuban market and provide them with the necessary market intelligence and information to successfully export to Cuba.

Published Date: 
Friday, February 6, 2015