Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 3rd 2016 Contents BG6 NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MARCH 3 • 2016
Economic relations between
Cuba and T&T are progressing
in a "satisfactory" manner said
Cuban Ambassador Guillermo
"In 2015, more than 78 businesspeople and
representatives of more than 30 companies
from T&T visited Cuba. The participation of
T&T at the International Fair of Havana as
well as the visit of a large trade delegation
from both the Chamber of Commerce and
exporTT can be considered a success," he said.
Vazquez spoke last week on Cuba's National
Day event at the Cuban Embassy, Bayshore,
In 2015, exporTT organised a trade mission
to Cuba with over 30 local companies as T&T
companies are seeking more investment oppor-
tunities as the Caribbean's largest island con-
tinues to open up to more foreign direct invest-
The Cuban Ambassador also spent time
visiting many local companies encouraging
them to visit Cuba.
"Last year I visited more than 16 T&T com-
panies here. These contacts represent an
important element of the expansion of our
bilateral trade and economic relations. Several
companies are already settled in Cuba."
These growing business ties between T&T
and Cuba come as US President Barack Obama
is set to visit Cuba in a few weeks, the first
visit of a sitting American President in over
While T&T companies are aggressively
entering the Cuban market, the Americans
also have their eyes set on new opportuni-
Last August after 54 years, the United States
re-opened its Embassy in Cuba.
In February, the United States approved the
opening of the first American factory on Cuban
soil since the two countries began severing
diplomatic and economic ties more than 50
The Treasury Department notified the Ala-
bama-based company last week they had the
go-ahead to open a plant to build tractors and
other heavy equipment.
The facility is expected to require a US$5
million to US$10 million investment and will
aim to be open for business in early 2017.
The plant would be the first significant US
business investment on Cuban soil since Fidel
Castro took power in 1959 and nationalised
billions of dollars of US corporate and private
property. That confiscation provoked a US
embargo on Cuba that prohibited virtually all
forms of commerce and fined non-US com-
panies millions of dollars for doing business
with the island.
Many Americans are also hoping Cuban
drugs bring solutions to one of America's
biggest health problems which is cancer.
Cuba claims to have the first vaccine avail-
able for lung cancer, the most lethal cancer
in the US with an average of 432 Americans
killed per day.
Vazquez said at present 1,860 Cuban pro-
fessionals work in all Caricom countries, of
whom 1,461 work in the health sector.
More than 5,000 Caribbean youth have
graduated from Cuban institutions and cur-
rently 1,055 are studying there, the ambassador
He said as a result of the agreements of the
5th Cuba-Caricom Summit in Havana held
in December 2014, seven medical scholarships
free of charge were awarded to T&T in 2015
and this year the T&T government has already
officially been informed of eight new schol-
arships available under the same scheme, in
addition to one to study dentistry.
"With reference to T&T, we gladly inform
you that more than 600 Cuban healthcare
professionals have worked here since July 23rd
2003. Currently, the medical brigade is com-
prised of 168 workers located in all regions of
the country including the island of Tobago,
and the arrival of 287 new collaborators is
expected as part of the health agreement
between our two countries."
Other projects that T&T and Cuba are work-
ing on in this field, include registration of
important Cuban bio-technological drugs in
Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses who
also spoke at the ceremony said last year the
T&T Trade Facilitation Office facilitated a suc-
cessful trade mission to Cuba which coincided
with the 2015 Havana Trade Fair.
"I was happy to hear that by all accounts
it was successful. It is my hope that more
T&T companies will follow in the footsteps
of Sacha Cosmetics and Angostura Holdings
Ltd in pursuit of exciting business opportunities
there," he said.
He also said both countries share a long
history not only in the field of business but
in other fields as well.
"Some of you may have experienced the
fruits of this bilateral cooperation. You may
have been attended to by a Cuban medical
professional at one of our health institutions
or collaborated with a Cuban artiste on a local
production or performance. One of our
Olympians, the recipient of a gold medal in
the Men's Javelin event at the 2012 London
Olympics, was trained by a Cuban coach."
With diplomatic relations going back to the
1970s, he said the two countries have a long
history to build on.
"T&T and Cuba share a long history of
friendship and collaboration. Since the formal
establishment of diplomatic relations in 1972,
our countries have built a relationship char-
acterised by mutual respect and steadfast sup-
port at the bilateral, regional and international
levels. This engagement is illustrated through
continued cooperation in trade, culture,
tourism, education, sport and health."
He spoke about the last Caricom-Cuba
Summit being held in Havana in 2014.
"We also work closely on shared objectives
related to trade, transportation, sustainable
tourism and natural disasters within the Asso-
ciation of Caribbean States (ACS) and pursue
common aspirations in the Community of
Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
At the wider global level, our collective voice
resonates on climate change, sustainable devel-
opment and the end to the economic embargo,
among other matters.
He also gave examples of Cuba's contribution
worldwide in medical technology.
"In the international sphere, Cuba has made
a seminal contribution to the fight against
many of the world's critical healthcare con-
cerns, particularly dengue fever, HIV-AIDS
and cancer. The fulsome support of doctors
and nurses provided by the Cuban Government
to West African states during the Ebola epi-
demic deservedly gained global admiration."
He called President Obama's upcoming visit
to Cuba a "defining moment" for the region.
"We celebrate the watershed participation
by His Excellency Raúl Castro, President of
the Republic of Cuba, in last year's Summit
of the Americas in Panama. In the coming
weeks, the historic visit to Cuba by the Pres-
ident of the United States, Barack Obama, will
be another defining moment for hemispheric
T&T and Cuba share a long history of
friendship and collaboration...This
engagement is illustrated through
continued cooperation in trade, culture,
tourism, education, sport and health.
Foreign Affairs Minister
GUILLERMO VAZQUEZ MORENO
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