What Does The Inauguration In Havana Of Miguel Diaz-Canel Mean For U.S. Companies?

In the short-term to medium-term, there will be no new meaningful and sustainable commercial (export, import, provision of services, vertical direct foreign investment, horizontal direct foreign investment) opportunities for United States companies.

The transition and succession from the two Castro Administrations to the Diaz-Canel Administration absent of a robust presence by United States companies throughout the Republic of Cuba is a wretched reality.

United States statutes (Trading with the Enemy Act, Cuban Democracy Act, Libertad Act, and Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act) and regulations (primarily those through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury and Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the United States Department of Commerce) prohibit and impede most practical overtures by United States companies towards the Republic of Cuba.

In addition to the impediments by the United States government, United States companies remain demonstrably hampered by constraints embraced by the government of the Republic of Cuba which constrict foreign exchange earnings, public sector development, and private sector development. 

There is no near-term or mid-term expectation that the thirty-plus (30+) non-travel-related companies, partnerships, and sole proprietorships who have expressed an interest in establishing a presence (office(s)/location(s)) in the Republic of Cuba will be authorized by the government of the Republic of Cuba.  These entities include law firms, accounting firms, consultancies, wholesale operations, retail establishments, hospitality operations, assembly facilities, manufacturing facilities, and restaurants.

The inauguration of the Trump Administration in January 2017 was not the singular impediment to the continued engagement by United States companies with the Republic of Cuba.

The inauguration of the Diaz-Canel Administration in April 2018 will not be the singular stimulant to the continued engagement by United States companies with the Republic of Cuba.

Important to note that President Canel is a civilian who wears a guayabera and, when required, a suit and tie.  His two predecessors never relinquished their military uniforms except in limited circumstances where protocol made epaulets unappealing.  While the “struggle” which his predecessors reminded the population with a uniform, President Canel’s choice of clothing emphasizes civilian leadership of the government.  That’s an important optic for management of United States companies. 

While the optics of the inauguration of a new president of the Republic of Cuba will visually reinforce a lack of a presence by United States companies, management of those companies who have or seek to introduce or re-introduce their products and services throughout the Republic of Cuba lament the willingness of the Obama Administration to resist implementing expansive regulations (direct correspondent banking, expanded list of imports, among others) and second Castro Administration to resist authorizing Republic of Cuba government-operated companies and Republic of Cuba nationals to make use of Obama Administration regulations.

Since 2015, the government of the Republic of Cuba has focused upon embracing a presence by United States-based companies whose mission is travel-related; where the transactions are primarily a provision of funds to the Republic of Cuba.  There have been limited opportunities granted for exports from the Republic of Cuba, coffee (indirect) and charcoal.  There is a power generation project with a non-public source of funding.  There are two equipment distributorships.  A healthcare product is in a clinical trial. 

The increased commercial presence in the Republic of Cuba by the government of the Russian Federation, government of the Russian Federation-controlled entities and companies, government of the People’s Republic of China, and government of the People’s Republic of China-controlled entities and companies has primarily been diffused through debt rescheduling, debt forgiveness, long-term government guaranteed payment terms, and donations.  Commercial logic has not been immune from a political calculus.

The government of the Republic of Cuba prefers to accept donations rather than accept invoices; not uncommon for governments of emerging economies and re-emerging economies.

For private-sector companies located throughout the seven (7) continents who may engage in commercial transactions with Republic of Cuba government-operated entities and companies, there is a marketplace in selling accounts receivables at a discount to third parties. 

The current (and soon-to-be) government of the Republic of Cuba prefers to engage in commercial transactions on a government-to-government basis, which tend to be less transparent and more available for restructuring.

Given the commercial, economic and political models of the Russian Federation, People’s Republic of China, and Republic of Cuba, both the government of the United States and United States-based companies will remain at a disadvantage until the 11.3 million citizens of the Republic of Cuba determine a commercial, economic and political transformation process within which has been defined the word “success” and to what level “success” may be achieved by an individual or owners of a commercial enterprise before conflicting with societal norms.

Attachments:

U.S. Companies With A Presence In Cuba

U.S. Companies Exporting To Cuba

Government Officials, Governors, Members of Congress Visiting Cuba

hosted2.ap.org.jpg

Vice President Pence Mentions Cuba At Summit Of The Americas In Lima, Peru

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Vice President
April 15, 2018

REMARKS BY VICE PRESIDENT PENCE AT FIRST PLENARY SESSION OF THE SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
Lima, Peru

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Secretary General Almagro, President Vizcarra, Presidents, Prime Ministers, and leaders from across the Western Hemisphere -- it is my great honor to join you today, as Vice President of the United States of America, at the 8th Summit of the Americas. 

And I bring greetings and great respect to each of you from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.

Excerpts....

And as all freedom-loving nations know as well, the greatest corruption of government is when the people lose their voice, their vote, their freedom, and their basic human rights under the heavy hand of dictatorship.  And the free nations of this conference are right to focus in renewed ways on ending dictatorship here in the New World. 

As we speak, a tired communist regime continues to impoverish its people and deny their most fundamental rights in Cuba.  The Castro regime has systematically sapped the wealth of a great nation and stolen the lives of a proud people.  Our administration has taken decisive action to stand with the Cuban people, and stand up to their oppressors. 

No longer will the United States fund Cuba’s military, security and intelligence services -- the core of that despotic regime.  And the United States will continue to support the Cuban people as they stand and call for freedom. 

But Cuba’s dictatorship has not only beset its own people, as we all well know -- with few exceptions in this room acknowledging that.  Cuba’s dictators have also sought to export their failed ideology across the wider region.  And as we speak, they are aiding and abetting the corrupt dictatorship in Venezuela. 

In Venezuela, as in Cuba, the tragedy of tyranny is on full display.  As this body knows well, Venezuela was one of our hemisphere’s richest nations once, and not too long ago. It is now among the poorest. Venezuela was also once a flourishing democracy.  It has now collapsed into dictatorship and tyranny.

WireAP_0c4142a2e63d458b86260f522d5b3c76_12x5_992.jpg

U.S. Food/Agricultural Product Exports To Cuba Increase 44%; Led By Poultry, Corn & Soybeans

ECONOMIC EYE ON CUBA©
April 2018

February 2018 Food/Ag Exports To Cuba Increased 44%- 1
February 2018 Healthcare Product Exports US$4,920.00- 2
February 2018 Humanitarian Donations US$419,869.00- 3
Obama Administration Initiatives Exports Continue To Increase- 3
U.S. Port Export Data- 15

FEBRUARY 2018 FOOD/AG EXPORTS TO CUBA INCREASED 44%- Exports of food products & agricultural commodities from the United States to the Republic of Cuba in February 2018 were US$26,122,933.00 compared to US$18,145,564.00 in February 2017 and US$17,847,747.00 in February 2016.

CLICK FOR COMPLETE REPORT IN PDF FORMAT

46.jpg

A US$495 Million Very "Good Friday" For U.S. Airlines & Cuba; A Jekyll & Hyde Moment For Trump Administration

Trump Administration Takes Contradictory Decision About Cuba Travel Options

Commercial Equivalent Of A Jekyll & Hyde Moment

A Very “Good Friday” For U.S. Airlines & Cuba

American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest And United/Mesa Obtain New Routes

A Blue State Victory

Easter Bunny’s Delivers A US$495 Million Basket To Cuba

On 30 March 2018, or “Good Friday” to millions of followers of Christ in the United States and in the Republic of Cuba, the Trump Administration quietly provided a further monetary lifeline to the government of the Republic of Cuba and, specifically, to entities within the country controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of the Republic of Cuba. 

It was a very good Friday for the Republic of Cuba.  If the newly-allocated flights are at capacity on an annual basis, the total value (including their round-trip airfares) of passenger expenditures could be approximately US$495 million; at 60% capacity, the value could be approximately US$300 million.

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) could have denied any or all of the applications by United States airlines for additional service to the Republic of Cuba, using the phrase that permitting such activity would be “inconsistent with United States policy” as the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury has for decades when an application for an activity is denied.  For example, the U.S. Food & Agribusiness Exhibition held in Havana, Republic of Cuba, in September 2002, was denied a license by the OFAC for three years before inter-agency review and approval by the United States Department of State.

Excerpts from the USDOT filing….

"Summary

By this order the Department tentatively allocates the four daily and six weekly available frequencies to provide scheduled services between the United States and Havana, Cuba. The Department also tentatively approves the request of United Airlines, Inc. (United) and Mesa Airlines, Inc. (Mesa) for flexibility to use either carrier’s aircraft in the Houston-Havana market.

Background

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Cuba, signed February 16, 2016, U.S. carriers may operate up to twenty (20) daily combination or all-cargo scheduled round-trip frequencies between the United States and Havana, Cuba.”

The most consequential decision by the USDOT was to award Long Island City, New York-based JetBlue Airways service from Logan International Airport (BOS) in Boston, Massachusetts, to Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) in Havana, Republic of Cuba.

While the USDOT did reference the impact to all United States airlines by changes to OFAC and United States Department of State regulations implemented by the Trump Administration, nevertheless, the USDOT stated that Boston is “home to healthcare, biotechnology, and educational institutions that JetBlue and the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) assert could support authorized travel to Cuba outside of the “family visits” category.”  Thus, the USDOT confirms that there are opportunities for commercial engagement that should not be impeded by a denial of the application by JetBlue Airways.

“Boston

The Department also tentatively allocates one weekly frequency to JetBlue for its proposed Boston-Havana service on Saturdays. Unlike the other proposals in this proceeding, Boston does not have any nonstop scheduled Havana service and JetBlue’s Boston proposal would establish a new gateway to Havana at a major northeastern city that is home to healthcare, biotechnology, and educational institutions that JetBlue and the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) assert could support authorized travel to Cuba outside of the “family visits” category.”

CLICK For Complete USDOT Document In PDF Format

Boston-Related Blog Post Links:

https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2017/5/18/nez9vv71hkndkzexqe9nfgmq8u2ish?rq=Boston

https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2017/4/22/what-does-jetblue-know-or-doesnt-know-seeking-additional-routes-to-cuba?rq=Boston

 

EasterFlyingBunny.jpg

Updates To List Of U.S. Companies With A Presence In Cuba

U.S. Companies With A Presence In Cuba Since 17 December 2014
Eight Sales Offices
No Manufacturing/Assembly Operations
Licenses Issued By OFAC/BIS Not Yet Disclosed & Implemented

With the Republic of Cuba, United States-based companies engage in the export of products, import of products, provision of services and horizontal Direct Foreign Investment (DFI).  

The global gross revenues of the fifty-seven (57) listed companies exceeds US$1 trillion and the companies employ approximately 2 million within the United States and other countries; not including revenue/employees from the United States Postal Service (USPS).  

The list does not include most travel agents and tour operators, the majority of whom have arrangements with Republic of Cuba government-operated Havanatur Celimar, Asistur, Gaviota and other Republic of Cuba government-operated companies to market itineraries.  

This list does not include United States-based companies that have exported food products and agricultural commodities (Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000; TSREEA) and medical equipment, medical instruments, medical supplies, medicines, and pharmaceutical products (Cuban Democracy Act of 1992; CDA).  

There is horizontal DFI in the Republic of Cuba by United States-based companies as represented by Marriott International (subsidiary Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide), Deere & Company, Caterpillar, United Airlines, Jet Blue Airways, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, ABC Charters, and Cuba Travel Services. 

List In PDF Format

Number57.jpg

Texas-Based Company Obtains OFAC License For Clinical Trials Of Diabetes Treatment Developed In Cuba

Dallas, Texas-based Mercurio Biotec (www.mercuriobiotec.com), a company established in 2016, has reported an agreement with Republic of Cuba government-operated Heber Biotec to submit a diabetes treatment to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clinical trials through a license issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury in Washington DC.  The company has three (3) individuals of Cuban descent among its senior management. 

Granma
21 March 2018

U.S. and Cuban companies reach agreement on Heberprot-p

Given the success of the product and recently established agreements between Cuban and U.S. entities, it is hoped that the medication will soon be available to patients in the United Sates

"Cuban enterprise Heber Biotec and U.S. company Mercurio Biotec have agreed to work together to make Heberprot-P – a Cuban developed medication to treat diabetic foot ulcers - available to patients in the U.S., once it has been approved by the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Given the success of the product and following the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the Ministry of Public Health of the Republic of Cuba, on June 13, 2016, it is hoped that the Cuban developed medication will soon be available to patients in the United Sates, according to a press release by the BioCubaFarma enterprise. 

Meanwhile, “The United States Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Controls, authorized Mercutio Biotec to enter into agreements with the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), to conduct all transactions necessary to import Heberprot-P to conduct independent clinical trials authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” according to the Mercurio Biotec website.

Almost one million U.S. citizens are diagnosed with diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) ever year; a condition which increases the risk of lower-limb amputations. In just five years the number of people suffering from this condition in the U.S. has risen from 73,000 to 85,000, with a significant economic and social impact on the patient, their family members and healthcare system."

heberprot.jpg

U.S. Vice President Pence Discusses Importance Of U.S. Food/Ag Exports

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release
March 20, 2018

REMARKS BY VICE PRESIDENT PENCE ON NATIONAL AGRICULTURE DAY
Department of Agriculture
Washington, D. C. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Mr. Secretary, for that overly kind introduction.  Thank you for your leadership of this great department.  It's been almost a year since you started.  And Secretary Sonny Perdue has already visited 34 states, made a remarkable difference for agriculture in America. 

Would join me in giving another round of applause -- (applause) -- to this great Secretary from the great state of Georgia -- the 31st Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary Sonny Perdue.  (Applause.)  

To men and women of the United States Department of Agriculture, to all the distinguished members of Congress who support agriculture every day, to all of you who promote agriculture across our nation, and to the rising generation of leaders in agriculture who are here with us today -- and I hope you spotted my tie.  Is that all right?  I wore my FFA tie.  (Applause.) 

It's a great honor for this son of a farm state to be with you today during National Agriculture Week on National Agriculture Day.  (Applause.)  

And I bring greetings from a great friend to our nation’s farmers, producers, ranchers, and foresters -- a man who’s fighting for American agriculture every single day since Inauguration Day.  I bring greetings this morning from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)  

And on behalf of the President, the First Family, and our entire administration, Happy National Ag Day, one and all.  This year marks the 45th anniversary of the first Ag Day, when the Agriculture Council of America organized a time for the nation to come together to, in their words, “recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture,” and to “encourage young people to consider career opportunities” in this all-American field. 

And our administration is proud to lend our voice to this great vision.  In his proclamation honoring this day, President Trump said that National Ag Day is a time to, in his words, “acknowledge the tremendous work ethic, ingenuity, determination, and perseverance that define generations of American farmers.  Because of their efforts, the United States produces an abundant supply of food, feed, and fuel,” benefitting not only our nation, but the entire world.  (Applause.)  

For my part, all my life I've seen firsthand the difference made by the men and women who work in agriculture.  I was raised in the heart of the heartland, in a small town in Southern Indiana, with a cornfield in my backyard.  It's still there to this day. 

And when I served in the Congress, I represented some of the best farmers in the world.  We worked to advance their interests in my position on the House Agriculture Committee.

And when I was Governor of the Hoosier State, I liked to say that in Indiana, we did two things particularly well:  We made things and we grew things.  And things that grow can be found not just on the shelves and stores across the nation, but they’ve been scattered all across the wider world.

And President Trump knows the truth, and I know the truth, and all of you know the truth, as well: Agriculture is the essence of America, and it is the beating heart of a great nation.  (Applause.)  What you sow, our nation reaps.  What you plant bears fruit for all across the world.

And you know the dignity of a hard day’s work.  You model the grit that drives our nation forward, and people in agriculture always have.  In a very real sense, you embody the virtues and the values that are at the root of American greatness.

As President Trump has said, “Our nation was founded by farmers.  Our independence was won by farmers.  Our continent was tamed by farmers.  Our armies have been fed by farmers and made of farmers.  And throughout our history, farmers have always… led the way,” and farmers will always lead the way in America.  (Applause.) 

It really is remarkable to think, on this National Ag Day, what American agriculture does and how advanced it is.  America’s farmers have long led the world in innovation and achievement.  And as this group knows better than anyone, working in American agriculture today is a far cry from your grandfather’s farm. 

In fact, today in America, we grow and produce here on Earth increasingly depends on the satellites and the technology that we have circling the globe in outer space.

Last summer, you might know that President Trump relaunched the National Space Council.  He gave me the great honor of serving as Chairman of it.  Through the work of the Council, I've seen the advances that we have made in space, but I've also seen how American agriculture today uses the technologies of today and tomorrow to increase productivity, maximize crop yields, and prepare for extreme weather events.

Remote sensing allows for soil mapping so that farmers can plant the right crops in the ideal soil and better design irrigation systems.  Weather satellites help farmers and ranchers monitor and predict weather patterns, and plan accordingly.  And of course, GPS has revolutionized farming and allowed farmers to plant, cultivate, and harvest their crops with incredible accuracy, with that cutting-edge precision agriculture that we all know about. 

In countless other ways, our farmers, ranchers, producers, foresters, and researchers, and engineers are enabling us to continue to feed ever more people, using ever fewer resources, proving once again that agriculture is the field of the future.  Let’s give a round of applause to all the great innovators in American agriculture today.  (Applause.)

And it really is a joy to be here today to be joined by so many who advance American agriculture every single day, including the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the American Farm Bureau Federation.  Let's give both of these groups a round of applause.  (Applause.)  

And it’s a special honor to be joined by organizations that are passing on the great traditions of American agriculture to the next generation of farmers, ranchers, scientists.  Let's hear it for FFA, 4-H, AFA, and MANRRS.  Thanks for all you do to raise up a new generation of American agricultural leaders.  (Applause.) 

In fact, we just heard from one of those great rising leaders a few moments ago.  How about another round of applause for Spencer Flood for doing a great job being a great example.  (Applause.)

Finally, on this Ag Day, it’s an honor for me to be with so many dedicated public servants of the United States Department of Agriculture and these distinguished members of Congress who support them each and every day.  Give the people at the department a round of applause.  They're working every single day -- and these members of Congress.  (Applause.)  They're working every single day for American agriculture.  

You know, more than 150 years ago, President Lincoln signed the bill that created this department, which our 16th President called “the people’s Department.”  And so you've remained ever since.  Because the work that happens in these halls touches the lives of every single American and every single American family. 

Through the Food and Nutrition Service, you fight hunger in America by bringing the bounty of our nation’s farms to those who are struggling to put food on the table.

Through the Farm Service Agency, you provide loans, credit, and disaster assistance to the men and women who work in agriculture.

Through the Foreign Agricultural Service, you help America’s farmers sell their crops on the world market.

Through the Food Safety and Inspection, you ensure the quality of what Americans eat.

And through the Office of Rural Development, overseen by a fellow Hoosier, Anne Hazlett, you provide support.  You can applaud Anne if you want.  I'm awful proud of her.  (Applause.)  You support small businesses and communities, and help those struggling in the grip of drug addiction.

Through the Forest Service, you protect and conserve America’s most precious natural resources, and inspire the nation with your heroic efforts in fighting wildfires.  Let's give the Forest Service a round of applause.  It was a tough year last year with record wildfires in California.  (Applause.)

And all across this storied department, at home and abroad, nearly 100,000 dedicated public servants advance the USDA’s long-standing mission.  A mission that's summed up in the department’s motto, “Do right, feed everyone."  (Applause.)  I promise you, President Trump and our entire administration, and frankly, every American are all grateful for what you do.  We really and truly are. 

But I’m not just here to say thanks on this National Ag Day.  I’m here today, on President Trump’s behalf, to assure all of you that we’re going to continue fighting every single day for the prosperity, and opportunity, and future of American agriculture.

As you all well know, as I stand before you today, it’s been a challenging time for America’s farmers and ranchers in recent years.  Since 2013, net farm income has been cut in half.  Today, the majority of American farm households are turning to non-farm work in order just to get the bills paid, and an average of 82 percent of income earned by farm households this year is expected to come from off-farm work.  

That’s why, since day one of this administration, President Trump and our entire team have been working tirelessly to stand with our nation’s farmers, producers, ranchers, and foresters, and everyone involved in agriculture.  As the President has said, in his words, in "every decision we make, we are honoring," and supporting "America’s proud farming legacy."  And I promise you we always will.  (Applause.) 

But, you know, it's not just been words; it's been deeds.  President Trump has been busy since the outset of the administration rolling back the heavy hand of government, which particularly puts a burden on people that farm the land.  In fact, this President has repealed 22 federal regulations for every new federal rule put on the books.  (Applause.)  He’s actually canceled or delayed more than 1,500 planned rules -- more than any President in American history. 

The President took decisive action last year to repeal the disastrous Waters of the United States rule to ensure that farmers and ranchers and every American can control the land that they possess and develop.  (Applause.)  The truth is that the freedom to farm, the ability to manage the land and be stewards of the land is at the heart of how we feed our nation, grow our economy, and create jobs.   

But, you know, it’s not just been about rolling back federal regulations.  Nearly three months ago, as all of you may have noticed, with the strong support of these Republicans in the Congress, President Trump won a major victory for our nation’s agriculture when he signed into law the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history.  (Applause.)  

Now, while the President's tax cuts benefitted every American, in large way and small ways, it gave America’s farmers historic relief when it comes to taxes on their businesses. 

First and foremost, we eliminated the death tax for nearly every American farmer so, as President Trump said, you can “keep your farms in the family.”  In almost every case, the burden is gone.  (Applause.)   

We gave America’s farmers and ranchers an unprecedented opportunity to invest in their future, because for the next five years, farmers, like other business owners, can deduct 100 percent of the cost of every piece of new equipment they buy.  That's real relief for people who face extraordinary input costs, in terms of the equipment that they use.  

We also cut the corporate tax rate from one of the highest in the developed world -- 35 percent, all the way down to 21 percent -- opening the doorway for a more prosperous economy and growing agribusinesses.  (Applause.) 

We empowered particularly small businesses, which most farmers are organized as small businesses, to be able to deduct 20 percent of their business income.

And we cut taxes for working families, doubling the child tax credit; doubled the standard deduction, so American families will actually get their first $24,000 of income completely tax-free.  That's real relief for working Americans, and it will help lift all the boats, including American agriculture, all across this nation.  (Applause.)  

So we’re cutting red tape, been cutting your taxes, but we’ve also been working to open up the world to American agricultural products like never before.

It is remarkable to think agriculture accounts for nearly one-tenth of our nation's economy, in large part because we export more than $100 billion worth of agricultural goods every year.  In fact, every $1 billion in agricultural exports supports approximately 8,000 American jobs.  But the truth is, we believe we’ve only scratched the surface. 

We’ve already taken important steps to modernize this department to make it easier for American farmers to export what they grow and raise and produce.  And we’re working with a friend of mine, a fellow Hoosier who’s here with us today, Ted McKinney, the new Undersecretary of Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, to make sure that we open even more markets for American goods.  (Applause.)  I'm proud of the whole department, but I love mentioning these Hoosiers to you.  (Laughter.)  I really do.    

You know, and President Trump is also working with the USDA and members of our administration to renegotiate existing trade agreements and reach new and better deals for the American people, American businesses, and American farmers -- deals that will bring a bounty into our farms, and ranches, and forests at every corner of the world.

Last year alone, we reached an agreement to expand American rough rice exports to Colombia.  We made a deal, for the first time in over a decade, to sell American beef to China.  And we reopened Vietnam to distillers and dried grains, and we’re just getting started.  We're going to open up the world to America's agricultural goods.  (Applause.)

And beyond trade deals, later this year, we’re going to work with all these great leaders of the House and Senate to pass a farm bill.  As President Trump has said, we're going to pass a farm bill that delivers "for America’s farmers just as they work every single day to deliver for us.”

To ensure that America’s farmers can get their goods to market quickly and efficiently, at home and abroad, President Trump recently unveiled a plan to make historic investments, as well in our nation’s infrastructure.  And working with these members of Congress, I'm going to make you a promise: The builder you elected as President of the United States is going to rebuild the infrastructure of America.  (Applause).

Just over two months ago, the President took an important step to strengthen our infrastructure when he signed an executive order that will bring high-speed broadband Internet to our nation’s most rural areas -- a critical advance benefitting farmers and smaller communities. 

And in the days ahead, we’ll continue to take action to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, as the President said, to ensure that our rural communities have access to the best roadways, railways, and waterways, and the best high-speed Internet access in the world.  On all these issues and more, you can know with confidence President Trump and our entire administration are going to continue to work tirelessly to advance American agriculture.

We’ll keep fighting to break down barriers for your success, to open up new opportunities for growth, and to ensure that you can continue to make the outsized contribution to our national life, that all of those represented here have made for generations past, today and for generations to come.

And on this National Agricultural Day, I can’t help but think of some words by one of my favorite radio broadcasters, Paul Harvey, and what he said to a gathering not unlike this one, four decades ago.  He said with a smile, "On the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, 'I need a caretaker…'  Somebody willing to get up before dawn… work all day in the fields… and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board… Somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners… Somebody to seed, and weed, and feed, and breed and rake and disc and plow and plant… Somebody who would bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says that he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.'  So, God made a farmer."  (Applause.)

Those words bless my heart because I grew up among farmers.  We had a few cattle when I was growing up, a little side operation that my dad was involved in.  I cleaned more than a few stalls in my life and chased a few stray cows, but I know what a farmer is, and Paul Harvey's words capture that.  It's the contributions that farmers made that we remember, on this National Ag Day, go far beyond feeding the world.  They go far beyond the enormous and calculated economic impact that farmers have on communities large and small. 

I truly do believe the greatest contribution that farmers have made throughout the long and storied history of this nation has been to the character of the nation.  I woke up this morning thinking about how many times in the Good Book we see the phrase, "consider the farmer."  Because there's something about the virtues of working the land, of having to rely on the blessings of providence, of having to wait on the weather.  Right?  That the resilience and the faith that it takes, I think it's nurtured not only people in farming, but I think it's, in a very real sense, it's nurtured the character of our nation.

So as I close, I just want to thank all of you, from my heart, and from the hearts of the American people.  To all of you who work in agriculture, whose labor and life’s work can be found in the food that we eat and so much more in the character of the nation, just thank you on this National Ag Day. 

To all of you who support our farmers, our producers, our ranchers, our foresters, through the work done in this department and through private organizations so well represented here today, thank you for what you do every day. 

And to all of you who are even now considering a career in agriculture and to all who've made the choice to work in this quintessentially American field, thanks for believing in America's agricultural future.  We need more like you. 

And as you prepare to all walk this path, particularly the youngsters among us, I'm just going to pray that you do so with confidence and with faith that God will continue to do as He's done throughout our nation's history.  That He'll “send rain on your land in season."  That He'll "bless all the work of your hands.”

And I close with confidence on this National Ag Day, with the strong support of these leaders in the Congress in both political parties who stand with agriculture every day, with the strong leadership of President Donald Trump in the White House, with the servanthood efforts of the people of this department and all these great organizations that stand with agriculture every day, and with faith in God.  I know we will make America grow again.  We will make America prosper again.  And to adjust a phrase, we will make American agriculture great again.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.) 

God bless you, and God bless the work of this great department.  And God bless the United States of America and all of our farmers.  (Applause.)

download.jpg

The White House Confirms Food/Ag Exports To Cuba Benefits Economy With Jobs/Business Activity

Since December 2001, the Republic of Cuba has puchased on a cash-in-advance basis in excess of US$5.57 billion in agricltural commodities and food products from the United States under provisions of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA) of 2000.

Since December 2001, the Republic of Cuba has ranked from 29th to 55th among the 229 agricultural commodity and food product country export markets.

In 2017, the Republic of Cuba purchased US$260,667,075.00 in agricultural commodity and food products from the United States; the Republic of Cuba ranked 55th of 229 country export markets.

According to The White House, the 2017 export value for the Republic of Cuba supported approximately 2,000 United States jobs.

According to The White House, the 2017 export value for the Republic of Cuba created approximately US$331,047,185.25 in "business activity."

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 19, 2018

NATIONAL AGRICULTURE DAY, 2018

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION

On National Agriculture Day, we acknowledge the tremendous work ethic, ingenuity, determination, and perseverance that define generations of American farmers.  Because of their efforts, the United States produces an abundant supply of food, feed, and fuel for a growing global population.  Our rich and abundant soil provides for more than just sustenance -- it provides a beautiful and bountiful way of life for millions of Americans. 

America's strong agricultural sector is a key component of our Nation's robust economy and trade.  Every $1 of United States agricultural and food exports creates another $1.27 in business activity.  Our country's agriculture exports are valued at more than $100 billion, and every $1 billion in exports supports approximately 8,000 American jobs.  Moreover, agriculture contributes to at least 8.6 percent of our gross domestic product.  The economic boost from our agriculture reaches beyond the fields our farmers tend, with unrivaled skill and diligence, to communities all across America.    

America's farmers, growers, ranchers, foresters, and agricultural scientists and engineers are world-leading innovators, exploring new research and technologies like advancements in biotechnology and the use of automated vehicles that enable precision agriculture to maximize yields and minimize environmental impacts.  My Administration proudly supports them in their pioneering endeavors.  In this new era of American agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing in rural broadband access, roads, and bridges, and is supplying affordable, reliable power to those living on the outskirts of larger cities and towns.  These investments in American infrastructure will improve the quality of life in rural America for years to come.

To help the American agricultural economy succeed in an increasingly competitive global market, I signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the largest tax cut and reform legislation in American history.  This legislation is providing much needed relief to America's farmers, who can now expense 100 percent of their capital investments, including expenditures for farm equipment, over the next 4 years.  Additionally, under this new legislation, the vast majority of family farms will now be exempt from the death tax. 

American agriculture is an integral part of our success as a Nation, uniquely tied to both our country's culture and economy.  Today, and every day, we cherish our Nation's rich agricultural history and celebrate the greatness of the American farmer. 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 20, 2018, as National Agriculture Day.  I encourage all Americans to observe this day by recognizing the preeminent role that agriculture plays in our daily lives, acknowledging agriculture's continuing importance to rural America and our country's economy, and expressing our deep appreciation of farmers, growers, ranchers, producers, national forest system stewards, private agricultural stewards, and those who work in the agriculture sector across the Nation. 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.
 
DONALD J. TRUMP

U.S. Food/Ag Exports To Cuba Increased 32% In January 2018

ECONOMIC EYE ON CUBA©
March 2018

January 2018 Food/Ag Exports To Cuba Increased 32%- 1
January 2018 Healthcare Product Exports US$1,206,160.00- 2
January 2018 Humanitarian Donations US$371,533.00- 3
Obama Administration Initiatives Exports Continue To Increase- 3
U.S. Port Export Data- 15
Speaking Schedule- 16

JANUARY 2018 FOOD/AG EXPORTS TO CUBA INCREASED 32%- Exports of food products & agricultural commodities from the United States to the Republic of Cuba in January 2018 were US$18,680,345.00 compared to US$14,149,848.00 in January 2017 and US$22,819,258.00 in January 2016.

COMPLETE REPORT IN PDF FORMAT

s735965455334319150_p6_i1_w2048.jpeg

Four Points Sheraton Havana Retains Most Restrictive Reservation Policy Without Needing To Do So

After twenty-one months of operation, Four Points Sheraton Havana continues to have perhaps the most restrictive reservation policy of any property located in the Republic of Cuba.  The company has not commented as to the reason(s) for the reservation policy.
 
Neither the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury nor the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) of the Republic of Cuba require the restrictions.

http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2017/4/28/why-does-sheraton-continue-to-have-the-most-restrictive-reservation-policy-of-any-hotel-in-cuba?rq=four%20points%20sheraton%20havana

On 27 June 2016, Stamford, Connecticut-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (a subsidiary of Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International) commenced management of the Hotel Quinta Avenida Habana, which was re-branded as Four Points Sheraton Havana.

Four Points by Sheraton Havana (SPG Category 6)
Avenida 5ta A 76 - 80,
Miramar District
Havana, Cuba

"Payment and Cancellations

Reservations for this hotel are prepaid and there are NO REFUNDS for changes or cancellation for any guests, including SPG members. Additional charges at the Hotel must be paid in CASH or credit cards authorized for usage in Cuba (Please note-most US Based Credit Cards are NOT accepted in Cuba—check with your individual financial institution)"

http://www.starwoodhotels.com/fourpoints/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=4531&language=en_US

OFAC Liability Evasion or Government-Approved Avoidance For Cuba Travel?

Rolling A Bowling Ball Through A Waterford Crystal Store

Direct Payment Versus Indirect Payment

OFAC Reportedly Confirms Verbally, Not In Writing

Deposits Are Fungible; Using Fungible Money

Shaken, Not Stirred

Watergate’s “Follow The Money

Travelers May Stay At Kempinski Hotel In Havana?  Maybe Yes

Members Of Congress None Too Amused; Are Departments Going Rogue?

Pulling The Pin Of A Grenade

The Trump Administration has tempered and, in some instances, extinguished interest by United States companies and interest by United States travelers from engagement with the Republic of Cuba; and the government of the Republic of Cuba shouldn’t be excused from enabling complicity by action and inaction.

However, the Miami, Florida-based publication Cuba Standard reported (see article) a New York, New York-based attorney received verbal confirmation from a representative of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury in Washington DC that at least one Trump Administration travel-related narrative believed true by many is not accurate. 

The OFAC did not issue the confirmation to the attorney in writing to preserve deniability and/or flexibility (there might have been “miscommunication”).  This is not unusual for the OFAC.

The landlord of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana is ultimately Grupo de Administracion Empresariel S.A. (GAESA) which is controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of the Republic of Cuba.  The property opened in 2017 and is managed by Geneva, Switzerland-based Kempinski Hotels S.A.  The hotel, which has the highest standards of service and the highest per room prices in the Republic of Cuba, may not be prohibited to individuals subject to United States jurisdiction.

In November 2017, the United States Department of State in Washington DC published a list (https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/cuba/cubarestrictedlist/275331.htm) of Republic of Cuba government-operated entities that were to be restricted from engagement by travelers (and United States companies) subject to United States jurisdiction. 

The list identifies entities affiliated with and/or controlled by GAESA and FAR.  The wording with respect to compliance is “Direct financial transactions with certain entities and subentities under the control of, or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services are also generally prohibited.” 

Significant the document also contains “*** Entities or subentities owned or controlled by another entity or subentity on this list are not treated as restricted unless also specified by name on the list. ***.” 

Republic of Cuba government-operated Havanatur (controlled by GAESA and thus FAR) is not on the list.  The majority of travelers subject to United States jurisdiction use the services of Havanatur. 

The Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) of the Republic of Cuba reported 1,173,428 individuals subject to United States jurisdiction visited the Republic of Cuba in 2017: 453,905 individuals of Cuban descent, an increase of 137.8% compared to 2016 and 619,523 individuals not of Cuban descent, an increase of 217.4% compared to 2016.  Some individuals visited on more than one occasion and may have been counted more than once.

Follow The Money

The Watergate-era “follow the money” phrase has relevance as the OFAC determines what transactions are permitted and what transactions are prohibited.     

It is the process of engagement that defines the impact upon travelers.  The meaning of “direct” and “indirect” are relevant.  Members of Congress who are seeking clarification from the OFAC and from the United States Department of State want regulations interpreted constrictively rather than expansively.  Uncertain as to the outcome of that effort.

When an individual, travel agent or tour operator contacts (generally by email) Havanatur requesting a reservation at a hotel in the Republic of Cuba, Havanatur contacts the hotel seeking confirmation of availability or deducts the room night(s) from existing room blocks controlled by Havanatur.  NOTE: Individuals subject to United States jurisdiction are authorized by the OFAC to confirm reservations directly with hotels in the Republic of Cuba and make payment at check-in or at check-out. 

Upon receipt of confirmation from Havanatur, payment is transferred from the individual, travel agent, tour operator, organization or company in the United States to a financial institution at which Havanatur has an account whether in a third country or in the Republic of Cuba.  The OFAC authorizes individuals and entities subject to United States jurisdiction to have accounts at Republic of Cuba government-operated financial institutions. 

The payment process may be by currency (through courier using regularly-scheduled commercial flights), but the prevalent means is by wire transfer from a financial institution in the United States to a financial institution in a third country where Havanatur has an account or through that third country to a Republic of Cuba government-operated financial institution in the Republic of Cuba where Havanatur has an account. 

NOTE: The continuation of the inefficient and costly triangular payment requirement is a legacy-building courtesy of the Obama Administration, which could have re-authorized the two-way payment process, but chose not to for undisclosed reasons.  Another materially impactful commercial regulatory lapse by the Obama Administration left to the Trump Administration to correct toward obtaining secure, efficient, cost-effective and transparent transactional integrity.  The Obama Administration believed that United States agricultural, food product, healthcare product and equipment exporters should pay a fee to third-country financial institutions for every transaction with the Republic of Cuba; commerce-appreciating officials within the Trump Administration and Members of Congress believe otherwise.

If Havanatur has one account at a Republic of Cuba government-operated financial institution and all funds received (directly or indirectly) from United States-based entities (individuals and companies and organizations) are directed to this account, then the resulting deposits are co-mingled- a deposit from A cannot be distinguished from a deposit by B or a deposit by C once all are in this account. 

For example, if an individual or company goes to a financial institution with two (2) US$10.00 bills and deposits them together or separately into one account, there will be no means to know which US$10.00 bill is being used the following day to make payment for an invoice to a third-party.  

For this reason, according to the New York City-based attorney who discussed the transaction process with a representative of the OFAC, there would seem to be limited impediments to travelers subject to United States jurisdiction visiting the Republic of Cuba selecting the hotel of their choice, including the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana and under construction GAESA-owned Sofitel So La Habana, under the ultra-luxury Legend category, to be managed by Paris, France-based Accor S.A..

Fungible Funds

What might travelers subject to United States jurisdiction convey to Havanatur?  When Havanatur receives funds for a reservation (which might now include a “fungible money” daily per diem of perhaps US$200.00 or more to spend at the hotel on meals, min-bar, laundry, spa services, etc. with unspent “fungible money” returned to the guest upon check-out) at a restricted property, don’t forward those funds directly to the restricted property.  Place the funds in a Havanatur general account, shake (rather than stir), wait a minute or two, then send the required funds value to the restricted property.  If using a courier with currency, verify the serial numbers on the currency to make certain that the serial numbers on the currency that arrived (directly or indirectly) from the United States are not the same as those delivered to the restricted property.  Is this OFAC-sanctioned money laundering?

The distinction as to use of direct and indirect funds is analogous to the 1990’s when visits to the Republic of Cuba by individuals (other than those of Cuban descent) subject to United States law (before the OFAC began using “jurisdiction” which was more expansive) were far more problematic, there was focus upon “fully hosted travel” which was defined as all payments on behalf of the traveler relating to the visit to the Republic of Cuba were to be paid by an individual and/or entity not subject to United States law (jurisdiction); and there would be no reimbursement, directly or indirectly, to the individual and/or entity making the payments.

The Takeaway

For United States companies and for travelers subject to United States jurisdiction there remains distance between Trump Administration rhetoric about policies, statutes and regulations and how the Trump Administration implements and interprets policies, statutes and regulations.  

Enforcement is a grenade and thus far OFAC, BIS, CPB and the United States Department of State have neither pulled the pin nor thrown the device.  Some would argue that the grenade remains hidden from view... or can’t be found.

Complete Analysis In PDF Format

 Cuba Standard

Miami, Florida

Stricter U.S. travel regulations: More hole than cheese

“The main challenge the travel industry is facing in light of the recent dramatic drop in Cuba business seems to be the U.S. public’s fears and perceptions, rather than the Trump administration’s actual restrictions.

Leaving the impression that Washington’s new regulations for Cuba travel are more hole than Swiss cheese, a U.S. lawyer told a crowd of U.S. travel executives during Cuba Media Day Jan. 29 at the Meliá Cohiba in Havana that there are simple ways for tour operators to legally put up their clients in any of the 83 Cuban hotels the Trump administration included recently placed on a “Cuba Restricted List” of properties controlled by Cuba’s armed forces.

Since the activity incriminated by U.S. enforcers is payment — rather than the actual use of the blacklisted hotels — Cuba could simply switch booking and payment for the hotel to an entity that is not included.

“U.S. travelers can stay even at hotels on the list,” said Lindsey Frank, a principal with New York law firm Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, P.C., about new restrictions published by the Office of Foreign Assets Control in November. 

“OFAC confirmed to us recently that, even though direct payment to restricted entities is prohibited, they can still stay in hotels that are on the Restricted List — as long as they make their arrangements and payment through an unrestricted agency that is not subject to U.S. jurisdiction, such as Havanatur. This is a real opening for staying at any hotel here.”

The lawyer told Cuba Standard he received this guidance verbally from an OFAC official, in response to a written inquiry.

Asked how close Cuba is to offering alternative travel arrangement and payment mechanisms, the chief executive of the state holding that combines all major inbound tour operators — including Havanatur — held up his hand, forming a tight “V” with his thumb and index.  “This close,” said José Manuel Bisbé York, president of Grupo Empresarial Viajes Cuba.

The State Department’s “Cuba Restricted List”, published in November with the aim of blocking transactions with all armed forces-controlled businesses, includes practically all hotels in Old Havana, the single most popular tourism destination in the island. All boutique hotels there are operated by state company Habagüanex, which was recently taken over by GAESA, the armed forces-controlled holding. 

Individual travel

Meanwhile, experts at the event also made clear that — despite the Trump administration’s stated intent of blocking it — individual travel is still possible, either under the auspices of an organization, or under “Support for the Cuban People”, one of 12 travel categories permitted by U.S. sanctions. If they decide to use that category, solo travelers have to stay at privately owned accommodations, pursue a full-time schedule of activities, and keep track of what they are doing, in case U.S. officials ask for evidence.

Travel executives at the event said that follow-up by U.S. sanctions enforcers after travel is very rare. With the exception of a musical group from California that was questioned by OFAC officials last year after their Cuba trip, none of the companies that together handle tens of thousands of travelers said they had heard of any OFAC investigations.

“We are not aware of any stepped-up enforcement,” said Tom Popper, organizer of the Cuba Media Day event and owner of Insight Cuba, one of the larger U.S. tour operator.”

bggg.jpg

JICA Opens Office; Japan Continues Focus Upon Cuba

https://www.jica.go.jp/cuba/english/index.html

"JICA opened its 99th overseas office in Cuba this January and you are now visiting the website of this very office, JICA Cuba. Thank you for visiting us.

Located just 150 km off the south of the Florida Peninsula, floating in the emerald-green waters of the Caribbean Sea, Cuba is a nation that became famous across the world for the "Cuban Revolution" which saw the victory of the Revolutionary Army led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara 59 years ago. Since then, Cuba has remained resolutely committed to maintaining a socialism regime, never buckling under the pressure of US economic sanctions, and wielding a strong influence over the third world and non-aligned countries in Asia and Africa as the leader of autonomy and independence – this is Cuba. Japanese people will probably associate Cuba with baseball players, cigars, salsa, and 1950s´ classic cars.

That being said, I suspect that few people who realize that Cuba has a history of exchanges with Japan that spans over 400 years, and this year sees the 120th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in Cuba, that Japan was Cuba's largest trade partner in the West (outside the communist bloc) in the 1970s, and that Cuba has already hit quite a few of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which even developed countries are still some way off achieving. Cuba is also known as the only county in the world that has embodied ideas of equality within the socialism principles as seen in its systems of unconditional free education and healthcare, food rationing, and an egalitarian pay.

Over 58 years from its reception of the first participants in training courses in 1960 - the year following the "Cuban Revolution" – to the on-going technical cooperation projects and grant aid initiatives, JICA has been dedicated to cooperating with and contributing to improving lives in Cuba while respecting Cuba's unique planned economy and relentlessly maintaining its partnership with Cuba.

Since the 2000s, JICA has particularly focused its cooperative efforts on the agricultural sector to contribute to Cuba´s national policies, such as increasing food production and food self-sufficiency (specifically regarding rice). JICA also extended its technical cooperation to the environmental sector, as seen in purification of Havana Bay water and initiatives relating to waste treatment in the Municipality of Havana.

The Cuba-Japan summit meeting, which saw Japanese Prime Minister Abe become the first-ever Japanese Prime Minister to visit to Cuba, was held in 2016 to affirm that bilateral relations are to be further strengthened. As part of its efforts to greatly expand economic cooperation and serve development needs in a public-private partnership, JICA has begun cooperation with the health sector on a larger scale to improve diagnostic techniques with high-level medical devices and to reinforce the capacity for the maintenance and management of medical equipment.

In addition, JICA is planning to extend its cooperation and roll out several projects to the energy sector to serve the promotion of renewable energy use and the stable and efficient electricity supply. It is also seeking to assist the transportation sector in the development of important infrastructure, such as roads, ports and harbors, airports, and urban transport.

The launch of the new JICA office in Cuba (structural reinforcement) is a statement of JICA's commitment to implementing effective, efficient, detailed and dynamic projects and cooperation initiatives to make substantial contributions to social and economic development, a goal that this country has always aspired to achieve in its own way. Building on the foundations laid so far, we are ready to take a step forward into the next stage, working hard alongside the people of Cuba.

"Hasta la Victoria siempre!" (Quoted from Che Guevara)"

download.png

New Cuba Sailings Continue To Move Cuba Above US$2 Billion In Marketplace Value To U.S. Companies

Cuba A US$2+ Billion Travel Marketplace

 Deliver 624,000+ Cruise Passengers To Cuba

375+ Sailings To Cuba

US$834+ Million In Gross Revenues To The Cruise Lines

US$89+ Million Spent In Cuba By Cruise Passengers

US$23+ Million In Port Fees To Cuba

 US$250+ Million To U.S. Airlines Relating To Cruises

US$116+ Million Hotels/Restaurants/Ground Transportation In Florida Relating To Cruises

NOTE: This data is for cumulative announced sailings for the period 2017 through 2020 as reported by the cruise lines.  

Transporting, housing, and feeding these 624,000+ travelers could result in an additional US$250+ Million to United States airlines transporting passengers to South Florida port gateways and US$116+ million to hotels, restaurants and ground transportation services located in South Florida. 

NOTE: Total United States airline revenues in 2017 from transporting passengers from the United States to the Republic of Cuba and return was approximately US$400 million.  In 2017, individuals subject to United States jurisdiction spent approximately US$650 million while visiting the Republic of Cuba. 

The three (3) largest cruise lines (through their multiple brands Oceana Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Holland America Line among others) and smaller cruise lines (through their multiple brands) have approximately 375+ itineraries which include the Republic of Cuba for the cumulative 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 sailing seasons.  Additional itineraries continued to be announced. The largest three:  

Miami, Florida-based Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd

Miami, Florida-based Carnival Corporation & plc

Miami, Florida-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd

NOTE: In 2017, the three-largest cruise lines combined operated a fleet of approximately 146 vessels, managed approximately 14 brands, earned approximately US$29 billion in gross revenues, and employed approximately 218,000 men and women.

If each vessel sails to the Republic of Cuba at capacity, more than 624,000 passengers would visit the Republic of Cuba from 2017 through 2020.

The gross revenues to the cruise lines from the approximately 375+ sailings that include the Republic of Cuba could cumulatively exceed US$834+ million for the period 2017 through 2020.

The 624,000+ passengers would be projected to spend approximately US$89+ million while in the Republic of Cuba [averaging approximately US$140.00 per person in expenditures and organized/non-organized excursions including cost(s) for tour(s), meals (government-operated and privately-operated), ground transportation (privately-operated classic car tours), sundries and souvenirs (including spirits, coffee, tobacco, artwork and crafts)].  Some passengers could spend considerably more (alcohol, cigars and coffee for example) given the United States duty-free personal exemption of US$800 per person.  

Vessel port charges in the Republic of Cuba may exceed US$23+ million, ranging up to approximately US$79,000.00 for the largest vessels (684-passenger to 2,744-passenger).

PDF Format

8TG65yMdc.jpg

Crowley Transports US$2.9 Million In Steam Turbine Parts To Cuba For GE Contract

In December 2017, Boston, Massachusetts-based General Electric (GE; 2017 revenues exceeded US$122 billion) delivered from the United States to the Republic of Cuba "parts for steam turbines" valued at US$2,935,515.00 with a weight of approximately 11 metric tons.

The parts traveled from Atlanta, Georgia, to Port Everglades, Florida, then to Port Mariel in the Republic of Cuba.  Jacksonville, Florida-based Crowley Liner Services provided the transportation from the United States to the Republic of Cuba.

A data-input error in the report issued by Newark, New Jersey-based PIERS identified the December 2017 shipment as "INST ETC FOR PHYSICAL ETC ANAL ETC; MICROTOME; PTS" with a weight of eleven (11) metric tons.

The United States Bureau of the Census, within the United States Department of Commerce, identified the December 2017 shipment as "From Miami District to the Republic of Cuba; Parts For Steam Turbines; US$2,935,515.00."

GE is the largest (by revenue) United States-based company to have engaged with the Republic of Cuba. 

Although GE has not issued a media release relating to the project in the Republic of Cuba, in 2017 the government of the Republic of Cuba confirmed in a PowerPoint presentation used by the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Washington DC that the company was providing parts and equipment for a power plant.  The total value of the project has not been reported. 

The steam turbine parts are for use at the Republic of Cuba government-operated 330mw Antonio Guiteras power plant located in Matanzas Province under a contract between GE and Republic of Cuba government-operated Union Electrica (UNE).

The Obama Administration authorized the transactions by GE as primarily advancing benefit to the citizens of the Republic of Cuba rather than to the government of the Republic of Cuba.  This type of transaction was and remains authorized by license (general or specific) through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury and Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the United States Department of Commerce.

In November 2015, GE purchased for approximately US$10.6 billion the power and grid division of Paris, France-based Alstom (2017 revenues approximately US$8 billion).

In 2016, GE commenced a power generation project in the Republic of Cuba resulting, in part, from a relationship between Alstom and the Republic of Cuba prior to the 2015 acquisition by GE of the power and grid division of Alstom, which had exported products to the Republic of Cuba:

http://www.alstom.com/press-centre/2013/8/alstom-signed-contracts-in-russia-and-ukraine-for-air-preheaters/

http://www.alstom.com/press-centre/2008/4/Eco-100-Alstoms-most-powerful-wind-turbine-20080407/

On 31 March 1971, GE certified a claim against the Republic of Cuba in the amount of US$5,870,436.86 through the United States Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (USFCSC) within the United States Department of Justice.  Interest accrued at 6% per annum from the respective date(s) of loss to the date of settlement. 

index.png

U.S. Department Of State Permanently Reduces Staffing At U.S. Embassy In Havana

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
March 2, 2018

The U.S. Embassy in Havana has operated under ordered departure status since September 29, 2017, due to health attacks affecting U.S. Embassy Havana employees. It will reach the maximum allowable days in departure status on March 4.

On Monday, March 5, a new permanent staffing plan will take effect. The embassy will continue to operate with the minimum personnel necessary to perform core diplomatic and consular functions, similar to the level of emergency staffing maintained during ordered departure. The embassy will operate as an unaccompanied post, defined as a post at which no family members are permitted to reside.

We still do not have definitive answers on the source or cause of the attacks, and an investigation into the attacks is ongoing. The health, safety, and well-being of U.S. government personnel and family members are of the greatest concern for Secretary Tillerson and were a key factor in the decision to reduce the number of personnel assigned to Havana.

CNS_Havana.jpg

ABC Charters Becomes 8th U.S. Company To Establish Sales Office In Cuba

A second United States-based travel service provider has reported receiving authorization from the government of the Republic of Cuba to establish a sales office in the city of Havana, Republic of Cuba.  There are now eight (8) United States-based companies with offices in the Republic of Cuba,  

Six of the eight sales offices are designed to deliver revenues to the Republic of Cuba rather than be opportunities for the Repuiblic of Cuba to import products and/or services from the United States. 

Airlines (ticket offices)

Atlanta, Georgia-based Delta Air Lines (2017 revenues approximately US$41 billion)
Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines (2017 revenues approximately US$42 billion)
Chicago, Illinois-based United Airlines (2017 revenues approximately US$38 billion)
Long Island City, New York-based JetBlue Airways (2017 revenues approximately US$7 billion); the company has two ticket offices in the city of Havana.

Agricultural Equipment (distribution centers)

Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc. (2017 revenues approximately US$38 billion)
Moline, Illinois-based Deere & Company (2017 revenues approximately US$27 billion)

Travel Agency (sales office)

Cypress, California-based Cuba Travel Services (2017 revenues DND)
Miami, Florida-based ABC Charters, Inc. (2017 revenues DND)

"Historical Authorization for US Travel Company to Open Office in Cuba

MIAMI, March 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- ABC Charters, Inc, one of the oldest travel operators to Cuba in the U.S. was given authorization to open their offices in Cuba on Feb. 27, 2018.

ABC has close to 40 years experience in Travel to Cuba, including Charter Service and Ground Services in Cuba. The company is in the process of picking a location that meets its customer's needs in Havana, so it can have its ground personnel available to assist if any problems occur or if additional services are needed while on the ground in Cuba. 

Tessie Aral, the President of ABC is excited to continue growing the business her mother established in order to build ties with their family and the community in Cuba. "We are very proud to continue building bridges with Cuba and our Cuban counterparts to show everyone what a unique and wonderful Island Cuba really is," says Aral.

About ABC Charters:

The company's founder was involved in the first community flight from the U.S. to Cuba in 1979. In 2000, she decided to broaden the business and created ABC Charters, Inc. which has been recognized for its excellence in service and professionalism in their staff. ABC Offers flight reservations, accommodations and ground transportation and our experts will help you with your full-time OFAC compliant trips to Cuba. ABC also specializes in assisting passengers obtaining their appropriate documents to travel to and from Cuba. ABC - A BETTER CHOICE for Travel to Cuba"

CTS Becomes 7th U.S. Company To Establish A Sales Office In Cuba

Airlines (ticket offices)

Atlanta, Georgia-based Delta Air Lines (2017 revenues approximately US$41 billion)
Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines (2017 revenues approximately US$42 billion)
Chicago, Illinois-based United Airlines (2017 revenues approximately US$38 billion)
Long Island City, New York-based JetBlue Airways (2017 revenues approximately US$7 billion); the company has two ticket offices in the city of Havana.

Agricultural Equipment (distribution centers)

Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc. (2017 revenues approximately US$38 billion)
Moline, Illinois-based Deere & Company (2017 revenues approximately US$27 billion)

Travel Agency (sales office)

Cypress, California-based Cuba Travel Services (2017 revenues DND)


CYPRESS, Calif., Feb. 27, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Cuba Travel Services, the leading charter and tour operator serving the destination with offices in California, Florida, New Jersey, and Texas, announced today the upcoming opening of their Havana location on March 31st.

It is considered a significant event as this is the first time a U.S. based travel company is awarded permission to operate in Cuba in over 60 years. Services provided by the California based company in Havana will include: Flight ticket sales, Customer support, Hotel reservations, Tour operation support, Car rentals, Excursions, Transfers, Programmed packages, Cruise Support Services, Advisory Services.

Opening a new office in Havana will allow Cuba Travel Services to monitor its operations more closely and better assist their clients while in the country.  Additionally, CTS will be better positioned to ensure their cruise and tour operator clients continue to offer OFAC compliant programs.

Cuba Travel Services will open its first office in the historic Lonja Del Comercio building located in Plaza de San Francisco just across from the Sierra Maestra cruise terminal and has plans to open additional locations in Havana, Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Varadero and Santiago de Cuba.

"Having the Ministry of Tourism grant this request to have a location in Cuba has been a big win for our organization. Our physical presence means our licensed clients will get faster service and more personalized attention directly from our staff," said Michael Zuccato, General Manager at Cuba Travel Services. "This is a very exciting time for us, to be the first U.S. based Travel Company to open its doors in Havana. We are confident our existing market expertise and knowledge combined with local representation, will result in an improved customer experience."   

About Cuba Travel Services

With nearly 20 years of experience providing services to authorized companies, groups and individuals, Cuba Travel Services is the leading travel company serving the destination from the United States. They offer real-time hotel, flight and excursion bookings, transportation, OFAC compliant tour programming and a variety of other turnkey travel solutions. They also serve as key advisors to airlines, cruise companies, tour operators and other businesses entering the Cuba market.

Headquartered in California, Cuba Travel Services currently maintains offices in Texas, New Jersey, North Carolina and Florida. The company provides specialty travel services including charter flights, private aviation services, visa processing, OFAC call center support services, cruise and yachting programs, shipments of authorized cargo and other logistical and travel support services.

cuba_travel_services_logo.jpg

Competition From Donations And Long Term Government Financing Are Hurdles To John Deere And Caterpillar

In November 2017, Moline, Illinois-based John Deere (2017 revenues approximately US$27 billion) delivered US$755,823.00 in agricultural equipment to the Republic of Cuba for use at its distribution center.  

Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc. (2017 revenues approximately US$38 billion) also has a distribution center in the Republic of Cuba.  John Deere reported that the company would provide financing for equipment purchases by authorized Republic of Cuba entities.

From Ganma (2/27/18): Punjab, India-based Sonalika Group (2017 revenues approximately US$682 million) has donated sixty (60) small and medium-sized tractors (assembled in the Republic of Cuba) and farming equipment (including rotary and grass cutters, cultivators, trailers and replacement parts) valued at a combined US$5 million, to Republic of Cuba government-operated Gelma's Agricultural and Livestock Basic Enterprise Unit under the auspice of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Cuba.

According the the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Cuba, the tractors will be used with protected and semi-protected crops, specifically within in green houses and covered growing spaces.

MINSK, 27 February (BelTA)- MTZ is mulling over the delivery of over 940 tractors to Cuba, Dmitry Schastny, the deputy marketing director of Minsk Tractor Works (MTZ trademark), head of the department for sales in non-CIS countries, said at an international conference of MTZ distribution network entities, BelTA has learned.

In 2017, Minsk Tractor Works delivered 150 tractors to Cuba. The loan to purchase the tractors was allocated by the Development Bank of Belarus in accordance with Decree No.523 to promote the export of goods (works, services). The decree helps MTZ as an exporter to supply equipment to the consumers and get payments. “As regards this transaction the MTZ received the payment instantaneously after the shipment of tractors,” Dmitry Schastny said. MTZ opened a representative office in Cuba and intends to continue to supply large quantities of equipment. Now, together with the Development Bank and Cuban counterparts the company is working on the possibility to supply 943 tractors.

Cuba's Ambassador to Washington Is A Hostage- If He Departs, He Won't Be Replaced.

Members of the Congress are quietly and virtually holding hostage H.E. Jose Cabanas, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to the United States.  

If the government of the Republic of Cuba seeks to replace Ambassador Cabanas, there will be an effort to persuade the Trump Administration to deny any request from the government of the Republic of Cuba for a replacement to present credentials to the United States Government.  The Trump Administration is likely to concur with any request from Members of Congress.

As a result, the level of representation at the Embassy of the United States in Havana, Republic of Cuba, would be the same as the level of representation at the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Washington DC.  No Ambassador.

In 2016, there was expectation that the government of the Republic of Cuba was considering Mrs. Josefina Vidal, then Director General of the United States Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, to replace Ambassador Cabanas if the November 2016 presidential election had a different outcome; the value of having a woman as ambassador to the United States when a woman is president of the United States.  Mrs. Vidal is now Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to Canada.

http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2016/8/3/if-hillary-clinton-wins-in-november-who-might-cuba-appoint-as-its-ambassador-to-washington?rq=josefina%20vidal

From www.allgov.com:

"José Cabañas, a long-time member of Cuba’s Foreign Service, assumed a new position in Washington without having to move his office.

Cabañas, who had been the chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington since 2012, presented his credentials as Cuba’s first ambassador to the United States in more than 50 years to President Barack Obama on Sept. 17, 2015.

His appointment to the post came two months after a restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had ended during Cold War hostilities in 1961.

Cabañas is from Matanzas, a city on Cuba’s north coast. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international political science in 1983 from the Raúl Roa García Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana. He would return there years later to serve as a senior professor.

Cabañas joined Cuba’s Foreign Ministry in 1984, when he wrote “Radio Martí: A New Aggression,” a study at how the United States used the media against the Cuban government. He began focusing primarily on North America in 1986 and in 1990 was assigned to the Cuban Embassy in Canada. Between 1990 and 1993, he served first as third secretary, then as second secretary at the mission in Ottawa.

Cabañas returned to Havana in 1993 as deputy director of the ministry’s North American Affairs Division. The following year he moved to the Cuban Residents Abroad Division, where he worked—along with a three-year stint in Consular Affairs—until 2001.

That year he stepped away from North America to become ambassador to Austria. Starting in 2005, he stepped down from that post but remained in Vienna as Cuba’s ambassador to the many international organizations based there.

In 2005, Cabañas was brought back to Havana to serve as director of the Division for Document Management in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2009 he was named Vice Minister of Foreign Relations, a post he held until taking over Cuba’s Washington mission. During the year that he won his ministerial appointment, he earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Havana.

Cabañas maintained a somewhat higher profile than his predecessors, traveling around the United States speaking to various organizations. He was the first head of Cuba’s Interests Section to allow himself to be filmed at such events.

Cabañas and his wife, Edilia González, have two children."