After five decades of diplomatic chilliness between our countries, American businesses may finally get to build new relationships in Cuba. Many Americans would like to explore the potential economic benefits of new trade markets, investment opportunities, and business partnerships in such industries as medicine, agriculture, education, freight, telecommunications, travel, lodging, and food. Although President Obama has made commercial travel to Cuba easier, regulations remain.
Unless your business is involved in an industry exempt from the U.S. Embargo Against Cuba (which covers the sales of medicine, credit card services, food, air travel, and building supplies), the simplest way for Americans to visit is under one of the 12 categories of approved U.S. travel to Cuba.
Not all business ventures fall under approved categories. However, people-to-people trips, especially insightCuba’s private Cuba tours, can help you get a feel for the way business is conducted on the island. As our guest, you’re authorized to travel legally in Cuba and can create a private tour tailored to your interests.
Tips for business travel to Cuba:
- Although American credit card companies have announced that they’ll process transactions from Cuba this year, it hasn’t happened yet. Bring cash—and note that you must declare amounts of $5,000 or more at Cuban customs, and $10,000 or more to United States Customs. (Good news for our British and Canadian friends: You may enjoy a better exchange rate on your Euros or Canadian dollars.)
- You can’t just book a flight—at least, not yet. Commercial flights and cruises to Cuba are expected to resume, but certain hurdles must be cleared first. For one thing, according to CNN.com, “there are other steps the Federal Aviation Administration needs to take to ensure certain safety regulations are in place.” For another, Cuban airports might limit the numbers of flights departing for and arriving from the U.S. They’re not used to handling such potentially high volumes!
- Sprint has signed a roaming agreement with Cuba’s cellular company, ETECSA, and Verizon offers roaming on a per-minute (or, for data, per megabyte) basis.
More encouraging, all of Cuba should soon be online. Currently, costs are too high for many citizens, and the infrastructure to support Internet technology is limited. This should be changing.
According to whitehouse.gov, the current administration plans to “authorize expanded sales and exports of certain goods and services from the U.S. to Cuba.” This should provide many necessities at affordable prices and make daily life easier for Cubans.
President Obama's moves to open relations with Cuba will eventually integrate the island country into the global economy. Understanding the culture and exploring opportunities now can prepare you well for commercial enterprises, if Congress allows them, in the future.
Written by Lise Waring