With just months left before the end of the Obama administration, the clock is ticking for new business and regulatory overtures toward Cuba. Reporting from the Datamyne-NEXCO October 13 conference, Preparing for Trade with Cuba, the Miami Herald’s Mimi Whitefield writes that conference speakers described progress toward normalizing commercial relations between the US and Cuba as uneven and frustratingly slow.
There were reports of encouraging signs of progress: Leonor Villanueva, of Delta Air Lines, said the airline planned to begin daily service from Miami to Havana December 1, for example. Saul Berenthal, co-founder of Cleber, said his company recently received a US license that would allow it to sell a wide range of US-made construction and agricultural components and parts to the Cuban government.
Still, John Kavulich, president of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, noted that dozens of offers by US companies that want to do business in Cuba under the new rules have been denied, or received no response at all. “This is not like pouring water; it is like pouring molasses,” Kavulich said, adding that the Cuban government is “saying yes to the interest of US companies but they’re saying no to a commercial relationship with U.S. companies. We’re running out of time. Cuba will never have a more enthusiastic negotiating partner than President Obama.”