Updated: After One-Year, Cuba Rejects Alabama-Based Cleber LLC Tractor Assembly Proposal

Updated From 1 November 2016.....

As of 8 November 2016, neither The White House, United States Department of Commerce, United States Department of State, United States Department of the Treasury or United States Department of Agriculture have, despite requests, issued a statement relating to the rejection of Cleber LLC.

The first proposal from a United States-based company to assemble tractors at a leased warehouse located in the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM) using parts manufactured in the United States and then exported from the United States to the Republic of Cuba has been rejected (28 October 2016) after one year of discussion and negotiation, including the use of the full 180-days of formal evaluation as mandated by ZEDM proposal regulations.  

Cleber LLC has been advised to seek commercial export opportunities- delivering assembled tractors (US$8,000.00 to US$12,000.00) from the United States to the Republic of Cuba.

Reportedly, the government of the Republic of Cuba shared that it preferred technologically-advanced products to be assembled/manufactured in the ZEDM.  However, the government of the Republic of Cuba knew the technological limitations of the Cleber LLC-designed tractor more than one year ago; those technological limitations did not change during that time.

Projects thus far approved for the ZEDM include photovoltaic solar farms, radial tires, aluminum cans, air conditioning equipment, light automobiles, valves for pressure bodies, glass bottles for beverages, glassware items, medical items (expendable), engineering and technological projects company, soy processing, instant dry yeast, monoclonal antibodies, biodrugs to treat cancer and other chronic diseases, oral biodrugs, blood-based products plant, enteral medications (tablets, caplets and capsules), injectible cephalosporins and carbapenemas, and oral penicillin-based antibiotics, auxiliary services, and biomaterial plant joint venture.

Also possible that larger, United States-based and non-United States-based equipment manufacturers advocated against the proposal by Cleber LLC for competitive reasons.
Paint Rock, Alabama-based Cleber LLC (www.cleberllc.com) had authorization from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury and the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the United States Department of Commerce to create a tractor warehouse/assembly facility in the ZEDM located near the city of Havana, Republic of Cuba.  

The first year investment US$1.8 million (which had been obtained according to the company); with total investment valued at US$5 million.

Cleber LLC was one of only two United States-based companies that had been public with efforts to establish a physical presence in the Republic of Cuba where the focus was not related to hospitality: 1) an assembly facility (Cleber LLC) and 2) distribution facility (Florida Produce of Hillsborough County) in the Republic of Cuba.  The proposal for the distribution facility was not approved; and in July 2016 Republic of Cuba government-operated Cimex established a warehouse-style operation, but without wholesale prices:


Reasons for the rejection may also include:

1) The government of the Republic of Cuba believes confident that with grants, loans, restructuring of existing obligations, energy-focused project announcements, revenues from visitors- United States and other countries, the government will have the ability to maintain its resistance to meaningful commercial and economic engagement with United States-based companies.

2) Cleber LLC required that the government of the Republic of Cuba take too many ideological steps and commercial risks.  Steps-  Cleber LLC would be perceived that the Republic of Cuba is accepting of current United States statutes, regulations and policies; that they have surrendered; highly-visible individual of Cuban descent, Saul Berenthal, may have been too combustible an optic.... Risks- Cuba is importing agricultural equipment from India, Japan, China, Belarus, France, etc., where the governments of those countries are providing financing and/or financing guarantees, so the Cleber LLC product would have likely faced substantial and potentially crippling competitive issues.

3) The interest by, and media focus upon Cleber LLC served a purpose for the government of the Republic of Cuba to entice (through a year-plus narrative) United States-based companies and non-United States-based companies to focus upon commercial potentialities in the Republic of Cuba.  Cleber LLC was perceived as a lure.