Doing Business in Cuba

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The government seeks mainly large foreign companies as business partners and gives priority to joint ventures with companies from Venezuela,China and Europe. Small foreign companies are not welcome in the country.

American Business

The majority of the US companies can not do business with the island because of the US Economic Trade Embargo and must comply to the OFAC regulations.(www.treas.gov/ofac) The United States is despite the Trade Embargo, the country's fifth largest trading partner. The "Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act" authorises direct commercial food exports on a cash payment agreement.

Cuba has bought 2.6 billion in US American food exports since Congress exempted agricultural products from the embargo in 2000 (1). The total value of the US exports to the island in 2008 was 660,612,943 USD, mainly corn, wheat, soybeans, powdered milk, pork products, chickens. (2)

Small Business Cuban Style

Small private businesses are not allowed in the country, only eldery men selling "Granma" the Communist Party Newspaper, on the streets are tolerated.

Despite the huge police control, an extended black market gives the Cubans the opportunity to earn an extra. In the tourist areas "jineteros" (hustlers) sell counterfeit cigars or copied music CD's to the tourists. Almost every Cuban family has a "negocio" (a business) they sell cigars, clothing, food, music CD's, but also a wide array of second hand stuff, a used cell phone, video, music installation, TV set. On the countryside illegal traded milk, eggs, meat and agricultural products are common on the black market despite the huge fines or prison sentences.

UPDATE 2010

Doing business on the Island
Since early 2010, Cubans may own and operate small scale independent businesses. They have to buy a license and pay taxes.

Hairdressers, taxi drivers, small food shops, independant farmers are the new Cuban entrepreneurs. 

Small private restaurants (Paladars) and private room rental (Casa Particular) already existed before. It looks like, that the Cuban government is making a small opening for private businesses.

Doing Business in Cuba: References and sources
(1) US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council Inc. (http://www.cubatrade.org) 

(2) American food exports to Cuba since Congress exempted the agricultural products (source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Cuban Chamber of Commerce
(http://www.camaracuba.cu)

Alamar Associates
Business Consultants to the Cuban Market
(http://www.alamar.cuba.com)

Law Firms - Business Consultancy

Cuban Lawyers for consultancy and legal advice on business and investing related subjects:

Dr. Frühbeck Consultants S.A.
Havana Phone: +53 7 959395
Property Law, Tax Law and Consultants, Employment Law, Family Law,(website: www.fruhbeck.com)

Consultoria Juridica Internacional
Calle 16 #314 (16th street)
entre 3ra y 5ra avenidas ( between 3th and 5th Avenue)
Miramar Havana
Phone: +53 7 2042490
website: http://www.cji.co.cu

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