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The T&T Chamber of Commerce's fact finding mission in
June preceded the opening of the US Embassy in Cuba last
Last Friday, 54 years after the US Embassy closed its doors
in Cuba and diplomatic relations were cut between the two
countries, the former Cold War foes re-established embassies.
For years, T&T companies have been warning of Cuba's
inevitable opening up and correctly predicted that local com-
panies needed to be well positioned before the flood gates of
American companies and brands.
Before the T&T Chamber of Commerce's trip this year, the
Energy Chamber visited Cuba in 2008 and other local com-
panies---such as Sacha Cosmetics---have already been breaking
In 2007, under the Patrick Manning administration, the
T&T trade facilitation office was opened in Cuba to open and
grow business ties between the two countries.
Neil Mohammed, managing director, Fen Mohammed Stores
Ltd, who was also on the trip to Cuba, advised local businesses
not to be afraid of the American companies and their brands
which will eventually flood the Cuban market.
Fen Mohammed Stores is a retailer of furniture and appli-
"The average Cuban worker works for the state and has low
wages. Trade is creeping with the USA. The goods from the
States will be too expensive for the Cuban consumers. This
is where products from T&T come in as our prices will be
much lower than those from the United States. There are
many opportunities for local companies in the food sector,
light manufacturing and services," he told the Business Guardian
He gave the example of mattresses and said his company
can make cheap foam mattresses and then sell them to Cuba.
"We are looking at this venture as the American brand mat-
tresses are too expensive for the ordinary Cuban consumers,"
He also wants to import handicrafts from Cuba and mar-
"The Cubans want to begin to export their marble and they
already use it in their buildings. I can use this marble in my
business," he said.
Mohammed said the trip was his first to Cuba and was sur-
prised. For decades he had been fed "propaganda" about Cuba.
"I thought it was a poor country, but I was surprised to see
a country that was not deprived and it is not poverty stricken.
I would advise anyone looking for opportunities to go to Cuba,"
Charles Carvalho, CEO of Carvalho's Agencies, told the
Business Guardian on Monday that his trip to Cuba with the
Chamber of Commerce opened up new business opportunities
According to his email statement: "Meetings were setup for
me in advance and I was also able to meet additional business
associates who were eagerly looking to establish contact with
tourism-related establishments like ours. Since my visit, we
were able to open new relationship with cruise lines wanting
to take their ships there. We are finalising these arrangements
with vessels going there as early as 2016. We also had successful
discussions with the tourism ministry which is doing all they
can to assist us in establishing our new business venture."
Companies that accompanied the T&T Chamber of Com-
merce to Cuba in June include:
• AA Laquis Ltd
• Abel Building Solutions
• ADM Imports Exports Distributors Ltd
• Carib Glassworks Ltd
• Carib Brewery Ltd
• Caribbean Chemicals & Agencies Ltd
• Carvalho's Agencies
• EY Trinidad and Tobago
• Halcrow Group (T&T) Ltd
• Hearty Foods Ltd
• InterContinental Shipping Services Ltd
• Lalchan Deosaran & Sons Electrical
• Perfection Services Ltd
• First Citizens Bank
AUGUST 20 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
Mission to Havana:
On 11 & 12 June 2015, the T&T Chamber em-
barked on a fact-finding mission to Havana, Cuba.
The delegation was led by Catherine Kumar, CEO
of the T&T Chamber.
According to the T&T Chamber of Commerce, in
an effort to assist in the enhancement and ex-
pansion of its Members' trading interests given
the existing barriers to entry in the Cuban mar-
ket, the mission had the following specific objec-
• Development of strategic partnerships with
private firms as well government and trade facili-
tation agencies in Havana
• Gain access to trade and market intelligence
on the Cuban market for members
• Strengthen capacity of members of the T&T
Chamber, specifically with respect to trade in
services to increase their export potential
• Enhance business contacts between the T&T
Chamber and Cuban enterprises
The Web site of the Chamber of Commerce also
said the visit was facilitated by the Chamber of
Commerce of the Republic of Cuba and represen-
tatives from the T&T trade facilitation office in
Cuba, Jude Carasquero and Anabel Fernandez
who assisted in setting up business to business
meetings with the relevant entities in the Cuban
market. Approximately 40 business-to-business
meetings took place during the two-day visit to
Cuba between the T&T Companies and the vari-
ous Cuban state companies.
From Page 6
Fen Mohammed Stores Ltd
CEO of Carvalho's Agencies
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