Jamaican entrepreneurs explore opportunities for investment and trade in Cuba

Kingston, Jamaica– Opportunities for investment and trade in Cuba were the topics for discussion at the ‘Cuba Demystified’ business forum hosted Friday, December 4, 2015 by JAMPRO, PricewaterhouseCoopers and NCB Capital Markets. The forum, which featured international and local experts in the investment and trade fields, discussed the opportunities, challenges and procedures to do business in the Cuban market.

With the Cuban economy projected to grow by 5% in 2015, the private sector was urged to take advantage of that economy’s gradual liberalisation by exploiting Jamaica’s special government-to-government relationship. Primarily, that relationship includes special arrangements for financing with the EXIM Bank, cooperation between the ports of Kingston and Mariel and the CARICOM-Cuba Trade & Economic Cooperation Agreement, amongst other benefits.

‘Cuba Demystified’ also explored the processes needed to successfully export to the Cuban market, the Jamaican products that are in demand in Cuba and the major distributors in that market. Entrepreneurs were advised that succeeding in the Cuban market required sustained interaction and participation in Cuban trade exhibitions.

Honourable G. Anthony Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, stated that the Government has noted the challenges for companies to export to Cuba, and said that funding was an important factor in increasing the export of Jamaican products, “The Government, through the EXIM’s Bank facility with Cuba, greatly attenuates the risk of timely payment for goods traded with Cuba. However, the time has come to consider the expansion of this line of credit to include services and to increase the volume of the credit line.”

He continued “Like you, however, I anxiously await the day when the US embargo against Cuba is completely torn down. I will, therefore, continue to move the Resolution in our Parliament against the embargo on Cuba, just as I have done each year since 2007, during the period of the vote in the United Nations to End the Embargo Against Cuba.”

Explaining JAMPRO’s interest in Cuba, President of JAMPRO Diane Edwards said that the agency has been actively working to develop that market. JAMPRO was keen on the opportunities that the private sector could experience in the neighbouring Caribbean country due to the interest in Jamaica seen on exploratory missions. Edwards stated, “It is critical for JAMPRO to act now and support any initiative that creates opportunities for Jamaican companies to have a presence in Cuba. While the embargo still exists and there are other issues that may prove challenging for Jamaican exporters, it is important for us to lay the groundwork and continue to gradually increase exports to that market, so that we will already have a foothold when conditions improve. ”

Corporate Jamaica also offered their support for the initiative, with Wilfred Baghaloo Director of the Advisory Services Department of PricewaterhouseCoopers Jamaica and Steven Gooden, CEO NCB Capital Markets Limited committing to assist their clients with targeting Cuba. Gooden noted that NCBJ has intensified its focus on regional expansion, and boosted its ability to provide support to companies both locally and regionally through NCB Capital Markets Limited. Both men believed that all Jamaican companies should seek to grow their businesses through other markets and that it was time to take on the challenges.

JAMPRO has undertaken a programme of initiatives aimed at growing Jamaica’s presence in the Cuban market. The agency will be continuing its Cuba Market Development Plan, and is building strategic partnerships with government and private bodies to further the penetration of Brand Jamaica in Cuba.

Published Date: 
Thursday, December 10, 2015
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