Published On: Mon, Dec 22nd, 2014

US-Cuba trade could reach $10 billion if embargo lifted

peterson_instituteHAVANA, Cuba - Experts with the Peterson International Economy Institute in the US estimate that US exports to Cuba could reach $4.3 billion annually, if commercial relations between the two countries are re-established.

The experts added that, if the executive decision by US President Barack Obama is implemented, Cuban exports of good to the United States could reach $5.8 billion dollars, up from zero currently, representing $10 billion in total trade exchanges.

“This is big news, Cuba is a virgin market,” said Seth Kaplowitz, lawyer and lecturer on finance at the San Diego State University, cited by PL news agency.

Bilateral trade exchange between Havana and Washington was cut in 1962 following the US decision to impose an economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.

According to the experts, the lifting of the US blockade could benefit US farmers, manufacturers, airlines, hotel companies, and telecommunication entities, among others.

At present, Washington authorizes the sale to Cuba of foods like corn, rice, soybeans and frozen chicken at about $350 million annually, but requires advance cash payment, since no credits are allowed for the island.

One of the companies interested in doing business with Cuba is Cargill, which is in the business of the sale, purchase, processing and distribution of grains and other produce, as well as animal feed and pharmaceutical raw materials.

Cargill’s vice president Devry Boughner described Obama’s decision as the first big step towards the reestablishment of relations with Cuba, and he noted that financial restrictions are the major obstacle.

Other US entities that have expressed interest in the Cuban market include Delta Airlines and Jet Blue, as well as hotel companies like Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International and Carnival Cruise Line.

And according to the experts, US oil companies could find a new market for their fuels and refining technology in Cuba, if the embargo is lifted.

Meanwhile, a recent survey has revealed that 58 percent of Cubans residing in Miami between 50 and 64 years of age support the re-establishment of diplomatic relation with the island.

According to the survey by Bendixen and Amandi International published in South Florida, Obama decision can count on stronger support from younger generations of Cuban migrants, and from those born in the United States to Cuban families.

The poll found that 53 percent of the youths between 18 and 29 years said they agree with the measures, while 47 percent of those between 30 and 49 years also backed the initiative.

A previous survey by Florida International University in mid 2014 revealed that a large majority of Cuban emigrants living in the United States and their offspring support relations between the two countries.

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