In 2014, several developments took place in the Cuban Landscape that signalled to the global community that Cuba was actively undergoing economic transformation. On December 17, 2014, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced that the United States would be easing the trade and travel restrictions placed on Cuba in a historic effort to restore diplomatic ties, which were severed since 1961. Prior to this announcement, the Cuban government passed the Foreign Investment Act No. 118/2014 which among other things listed the incentives for foreign investors and highlighted the most attractive areas for foreign investment. It was against this backdrop that the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber decided to embark on a Fact Finding Mission to the Republic of Cuba to explore the potential areas for investment and increased Market Access opportunities in Cuba.
The focus for this Mission primarily entailed finding further information on increased opportunities in the Cuban Market and conditions of operation therein given the substantial up-to-date information deficit that exists in Trinidad and Tobago. In an effort to assist in the enhancement and expansion of our Members’ trading interests given the existing barriers to entry in the Cuban market, the mission had the following specific objectives:
- Development of strategic partnerships with private firms as well government and trade facilitation agencies in Havana
- Gain access to trade and market intelligence on the Cuban Market for Members
- Strengthen capacity of Members of the T&T Chamber, specifically with respect to Trade in Services to increase their export potential
- Enhance business contacts between the T&T Chamber and Cuban enterprises
On 11 & 12 June 2015, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber embarked on a Fact Finding Mission to Havana, Cuba. The delegation was led by Ms Catherine Kumar, CEO of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber accompanied by Ms. Rianna Paul and Ms. Lisa Douglas. Mr. Dwight Brown, CEO (Ag.) of exporTT and Ms. Nathali Richards, Export Promotion Officer of exporTT also accompanied the 24 member delegation from the T&T Chamber for the visit. Companies participating in the Mission were:
- A.A Laquis Ltd.,
- Abel Building Solutions
- ADM Imports Exports Distributors Ltd
- Carib Glassworks Ltd.,
- Carib Brewery Ltd
- Caribbean Chemicals & Agencies Ltd.
- Carvalho’s Agencies
- EY Trinidad and Tobago
- Halcrow Group (T&T) Ltd
- Hearty Foods Ltd.,
- InterContinental Shipping Services Ltd. Lalchan Deosaran & Sons Electrical
- Perfection Services Ltd.,
- First Citizens Bank
- Fen Mohammed Stores Ltd.
This inaugural visit was marked by the signing of a Cooperation Agreement between the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba on June 11, 2015. The Cooperation Agreement seeks to formalize linkages between the respective business communities through information sharing on trade and business opportunities in both markets. The Agreement will facilitate a strengthened relationship and support framework to member companies desirous of doing business and investing in our respective countries.
Business to Business Meetings:
The visit was facilitated by the Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Cuba and representatives from the Trinidad and Tobago Trade Facilitation Office in Cuba, Mr. Jude Carasquero and Mrs. Anabel Fernandez who assisted in setting up business to business meetings with the relevant entities in the Cuban market. Approximately 40 business to business meetings took place during the two day visit to Cuba between the Trinidad and Tobago Companies and the various Cuban state companies. .The delegation was also hosted by key trade facilitating bodies and presentations were delivered by:
- CEPEC (Centro para la Promocion del Comercio Exterior y la Inversion Extranjera de Cuba)
- La Oficina Nacional de Normalizacion de Cuba (National Standardization Office of Cuba)
- Office of the Special Economic Development Zone of Mariel
If you have any questions about opportunities in Cuba or would like more information on the Trade Mission, please contact Ms Lisa Douglas via email at: [email protected]
In preparation for the Mission, a Pre-mission seminar was held on Tuesday 19 May, 2015. At this seminar, feature addresses were delivered by His Excellency Mervyn Assam, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary with Responsibility for Trade and Industry and Ambassador Guillermo Vazquez Moreno, Ambassador of Cuba to Trinidad and Tobago. Testimonials were also shared by Companies that have had a significant amount of experience conducting business with the Cuban Market. Presentations were geared towards orienting participants in all issues related to trading with the Cuban Market.
- Agenda for Pre-Mission Seminar CUBA
- Welcome Remarks for Cuba Pre-Mission Seminar by Catherine Kumar
- Speech by Ambassador Guillermo Vazquez Moreno
- Speech by Ambassador Mervyn Assam
- RBL in CUBA
A Post-Mission press conference on the Chamber’s findings from the Fact Finding Mission to Cuba was held on July 6, 2015. At the press conference, Ms Catherine Kumar, CEO of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber spoke on key findings from the Mission to Cuba. The CEO of the exporTT also delivered remarks on his experience. Testimonials were also provided by Mr. Charles Carvalho of Carvalho’s Travel Agency and Mr Desmond Roberts of Perfection Services Ltd.