Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 7th 2013 Contents NOVEMBER 2013 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
She said it is not only Cuba but going into
any new market has its challenges.
"Going into a market where so little was
known about it was even more challenging. It
took two years to understand how business is
done in Cuba and to get an actual order. I
visited Cuba every month for six months and
finally the President of one of the companies
I was visiting acknowledged that I meant busi-
ness and was not going to give up. Roughly
translated she said Cuba was becoming my
second home. It was only then that the nego-
Chan said registering to do business in Cuba
can be expensive.
"Every company doing business in Cuba has
to go through a registration process which is
involved and expensive. To ensure there is
transparency in all their operations, no one
person can make a decision. This means it
takes very long to get approval of prices, sam-
ples, etc. The long payment terms that are
requested by the Cuban manufacturer, method
of payment, wire transfers, cannot be done
through the US. Detailed paperwork is required
by Cuban Customs that accompanies every
Benefits in Cuba
Despite these challenges, Chan said it is
worth doing business in Cuba.
She gave the story of her translator in Cuba
and the ingenuity of the Cuban people.
"What encourages me to continue doing
business with Cuba are the people that I have
met there. The translator that I use in Cuba
apologised once for the grease under his nails.
He has a 28-year-old Lada, which he is con-
stantly fixing, sometimes on our route together.
He cannot afford a new vehicle and parts are
not easily available, so he has rebuilt almost
every part of the engine himself," she said.
Chan gave her experience as a manufacturer
to the Ministry of Trade.
"The T&T Ministry of Trade held a seminar
sometime ago on doing business in Cuba and,
at the time, Hyline was the only manufacturing
company exporting to Cuba. I was asked to
make a presentation at the seminar about the
difficulties encountered in doing business in
"My approach was that as difficult as it is
to get into Cuba, maybe we can learn something
from how they conduct business. A purchase
order from Cuba is a contract that is signed
by both parties detailing every single aspect
of the shipment, from standard items, such as
price and quantity, to how external packaging
should be labelled for shipping and the list of
all the documents needed by Cuban Customs
She said the meticulous way in which busi-
ness is done in Cuba has helped raised the bar
in the way her company does business.
"In becoming ISO certified, Hyline had devel-
oped procedures for every aspect of our oper-
ations. In doing business with Cuba, these
processes have to be implemented meticulously.
I think it gives the staff at Hyline a higher
benchmark for efficiency by which they need
Other T&T companies are also in Cuba.
According the Web site Banco Central de
Cuba (Cuban Central Bank), T&T s Republic
Bank is one of the foreign banks operating
"Republic Bank Ltd opened its Office of
Representation in Cuba at the beginning of
May 2002, when it was issued a licence by
Banco Central de Cuba and, at present, it is
the top independent bank in the Caribbean
with a broad projection in the whole region in
the promotion of trade relations between these
countries," states the Web site.
The Cuban Central Bank Web site also says:
"Republic Bank has been financing trade oper-
ations in Cuba since 1999, granting credit lines
to different financial institutions established
in the country in support to import and exports
made by Cuban enterprises.
The Representative Office of Republic Bank
established in Cuba will facilitate trade oper-
ations of the bank in the island, and identify
business opportunities linked to financial serv-
ices, such as bill discount, direct loans, opening
of letters of credit to finance imports and export
financing, for subsequent approval and imple-
mentation by the Headquarters of Republic
Bank Ltd in T&T."
Efforts to get Republic Bank to expand on
its presence in Cuba proved futile up to press
The Energy Chamber of T&T also visited
Cuba in 2008 to seek new opportunities and
partnerships. In 2011 Guillermo Hernandez
Perez, exploration director of Cuba s state-
owned oil company, CUPET, visited T&T to
tell of opportunities in that country.
Cuba Embargo Report 2013
Two Tuesdays ago at the United Nations, a
record 188 countries condemned the five-
decade-old US embargo against socialist Cuba
in an annual United Nations General Assembly
vote that signalled hardening opposition to US
According to the Cuban report on the eco-
nomic damages done by the US embargo that
was presented at the United Nations, it has
cost the Cuban economy US$1,157,327,000,000.
In the area of foreign trade, Cuba claims this
year the embargo has cost the country
US$3,921,725,790, ten per cent above that for
the previous year.
"Higher costs of financing, due to the risk
country factor, grew by 76 per cent compared
to the previous period as a result of pressures
exercised by the US authorities on third coun-
tries to obstruct or prevent financing to Cuba.
Freight and insurance costs, resulting from
geographical relocations of trade operations,
increased by 24 per cent," the Report said.
The prestige Cuban Havana Club Interna-
tional brand lost US$73 million as a result of
the ban on selling it in the US market.
"This estimate is based on the positioning
of rum brands the company places in the
international market, where the US market
accounts for almost 42 per cent of premium
destinations," the report said.
The report said foreign direct investment
(FDI) has been hard hit by the embargo.
"The blockade imposed by the government
of the United States continues to obstruct
the foreign investment process in Cuba. Access
to cutting-edge technology owned by US
enterprises is forbidden. Access to financing
coming from US banks for the development
of FDI in the country is forbidden. Higher
freight and transportation costs have all hurt
In the oil industry, the embargo make con-
tracts with companies which own drilling rigs
more expensive as technologies they use must
not include more than ten per cent US parts.
"This circumstance means additional invest-
ments for foreign operators, thus making the
use of rigs in Cuban water more costly."
The report said the damage to international
banks in Cuba is "hard to quantify", but it is
"As of March 31, 2013, Reuters fully sus-
pended its banking and financial information
service for Cuban banking institutions. This
situation brings about many issues by making
it difficult to get professional or official market
reference, such as information on exchange
rates, interest rates and raw material prices.
In order to agree on and follow up on financial
operations involving national economy invest-
The report said the all-important tourism
sector continues to be negatively affected by
the embargo, with the sector losing an esti-
mated US$196 million in revenue.
"This is mainly in the form of unearned
income due to the existing ban on access to
Cuban tourist services for Americans. Cuban
tourism enterprises cannot be advertised over
the best Web services, such as Google, Yahoo
or MSN, because they are US corporations,"
the report stated.
Embargo makes oil
rigs more expensive
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