Stuck on the Sidelines in Havana

Politico

By: Adam Behsudi

U.S. businesses are calling attention to missed opportunities in nearly 400 economic development projects in Cuba that are largely out of reach for them because of the longstanding trade embargo. The Cuban government solicited investment in the projects at its annual Havana International Trade Fair last week.

“The new 2016 portfolio highlights the tangible and potentially lucrative opportunities for U.S. companies to play a leading role in modernizing Cuba,” Engage Cuba President James Williams said in a statement. “But despite recent regulatory changes, U.S. companies still face unnecessary hurdles and outdated restrictions related to Cuba. Until Congress fully lifts the embargo, American companies will be stuck on the sidelines as foreign competitors move in on Cuba's growing markets.”

Williams’ business advocacy group, which is focused on strengthening trade relations with Cuba, joined about two dozen U.S. companies in Havana for the trade fair. The announced foreign direct investment portfolio includes 69 more projects than last year, including investment opportunities in agriculture, energy, biotechnology, health care and transportation. The U.S. trade embargo largely excludes U.S. companies from involvement in the projects, which Engage Cuba estimates are worth a total of more than $5 billion.