May 30 2012, University of Havana professor of economics Luis Rene Fernandez-Tablo gave a special guest lecture at SIUE titled “Cuba as a Market for US Business a Brief Approach.” The lecture addressed many of the current complications when it comes to doing business with Cuba as a direct result of the current economic sanctions.
“The notes for the presentation state ‘Doing business in Cuba’ this sounds very attractive,” shared Fernandez, “I don’t want to be a pessimist but doing business in Cuba is a most difficult thing.”
The economic embargo, often viewed as blockade by the Cuban people, is the result of sanctions put in place back in 1959. These sanctions essentially make it illegal for any American company to directly sell products to Cuba. Despite this the United States still remains Cuba’s fourth largest business partner and the number one exporter of food to Cuba. In order to achieve this transactions are generally made through European third parties.
Fernandez went on to discuss what scholars believe the economic ramifications of removing the sanctions would be. No longer an economy primarily dependent on the export of sugar it is believed that the modern Cuban economy would thrive on tourism trade as well as the export of health services. Further, due to their geographic proximity to the United States, Cuba represents a natural trade partner representing as much as an estimated three to six billion dollar untapped market.
Fernandez’s presence at SIUE was part of a delegation from the University of Havana in regard to establishing a formal academic exchange program between the two universities. As a result the lecture framed many of the aspects of the embargo in regard to how they have the potential to affect researchers during an academic exchange. These included limitations on information technologies, as well as difficulties in transferring research funds.
Jorge Hernandez Martinez and Raul Rodriguez joined Fernandez as part of the delegation. While present the two presented a lecture on the history and politics surrounding US Cuban relations. The delegation also spent their time meeting with local media, touring the SIUE campus, and meeting with university officials in regard to the future academic exchange program.
Filed Under: Happenings