American companies rush to Cuban trade fair335 views
Would anyone have ever imagined that American companies would attend a trade fair in the communist Island of Cuba, which had unfriendly relations with the United States for more than 50 years? Maybe a few. Actually, they are now befriending and with this change in a relationship the long-isolated Caribbean peninsula is witnessing a rush of US businesses, like Caterpillar, Cargill and Ninkasi Brewery Co at its annual International Trade Fair starting Monday (November 2 to 7).
In April 2014, the United States and Cuba had agreed to revisit their stagnant diplomatic ties, which nearly left the latter as a pariah state; poverty has soared and Cubans largely have no access to the benefits of the modern world in medical sciences and other fields.
In 1961, US ex-President John F. Kennedy had slapped a ban on almost all exports to Cuba, tightened travel restrictions and unleashed CIA-baked covert operations to overthrow the Fidel Castro’s government with communist political ideology, while Cuba had jacked up trade with the Soviet Union, nationalised US companies and pushed up taxes on its imports.
Cuba suffered a loss of US$1.26 trillion in fifty years of full-blown economic sanctions by US and due to a prolonged estrangement.
Trade analysts said US’s manufacturing and telecommunication enterprises are drooling over the bonanza of opportunities the old cold war enemy, 92-mile off the American coast, offer because of its ramshackle infrastructure and other untouched and semi-untouched socioeconomic sectors.
Cubans, on the other hand, hope that their cigar and tourism industries would get shot in the arm while they would be blessed with modern technologies and health facilities.
With the restart of diplomatic ties, Cubans—most of them couldn’t bear high internet cost—may now have an access to affordable ICT services.
Cuba ranks notches lower to Pakistan in the freedom on the internet index of the Freedom on the Net 2015 report.
The bearish Cuban oil sector has sprung into action with the news of restoring friendship and the state-controlled Cuba-Petroleo (Cupet) reportedly has planned drilling by the end of 2016 with US exploration firms mulling the same.
Why the US President Barack Obama clinched the victory of bringing Cuba on the table that was the Achilles’ heel for 10 of his predecessors was because both the parties were ready to accommodate each other. Finally, at least both the nations reopened their embassies in Washington and Havana.
And, in the wake of a United Nations’ condemnation of the sanctions on Cuba, the likelihood of the lifting of the sanctions increases all the more. For many analysts, however, this rebuke is just a ritual performed every year by the UN without having an implication whatsoever.
The London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International echoed the UN’s demand and insisted on the US government to lift the long-standing economic embargoes against Cuba.
“A UN vote to lift the US embargo on Cuba sends, once again, a strong message to US President Barack Obama and Congress about the dire human rights impact of the economic embargo on ordinary Cubans,” said the Amnesty International.
Analysts said the future is uncertain: firstly President Obama is close to the end of its second term and secondly if his successor follows suit the mantra of free and fair democratic dispensation in Cuba may backfire. Cuban Raul Castro has no plan to leave his office before 2017/18.
Critics have a valid point: Why the authoritarian rules in China and Saudi Arabia don’t stop the democracy-loving US from building ties with the two countries.
Even if all goes well some analysts fear an outbreak of kickbacks and commission culture in the Castro-governed nation, which ranked 63 out of 175 in the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index of the Transparency International.