The 1st Convention on Commerce, Cuba-2017, ( I Convención de Comercio, Cuba 2017) wraps today in Havana, marking the first convention of its kind to take place on the island. The convention occurred less than a year after relations between the United States and Cuba thawed.
The convention, which is taking place at the Havana International Convention Center, bears the slogan “Challenges and Trends of Sustainable Commerce.” It attracted attendees from 10 different countries.
The convention was designed as, along with an educational event, a networking platform for technicians, specialists, researchers, and executives to discuss Cuba’s economic future and prospects. The convention’s over 500 participants have spent the week at presentations, exhibitions, round tables, and panels. Participants came from businesses, universities, government institutes, and the like.
Listed events for this year’s convention include symposiums on quality, safety and environment; sustainable logistics; and cosmetology. Other topic s covered include marketing, communication; and image; consumer protections; new management models; and gastronomy and culinary art.
The Havana International Convention Center is roughly a 20-minute drive from downtown Havana, in the western part of the city. Features gardens both inside and out, the 60,000 square meter facility was built in 1979 and will likely be the site of future similar conventions.
Mary Blanca Ortega Barredo, Cuba’s Minister of Domestic Trade, spoke at the inauguration of the convention on Monday. Her department is responsible for regulating commercial and domestic trade and sales, as well as technical and other services and the hiring of personnel.
In her comments, Barredo mentioned that the convention arose because Cuba needs to foster its development and care for its citizens through public policy. She also stated that business systems, research, centers, and universities will be called upon to educate those in the industry during the event.
Barredo referenced consumer protections, domestic lodging, warehouses, and improving the current flow of wealth in the country using a market study in her comments. She also stressed a desire to focus on underprivileged populations in Cuba, where increased trade could boost the overall standard of living.
This convention is taking place in light of significant changes between the United States’ relationship with Cuba. Barack Obama restored relations with Cuba during the latter part of his presidency, which had soured during the Cold War. This move opened the door to trade and travel with the island nation. Prior to the move, a 54-year-old trade embargo restricted trade with the island nation, and Americans could only visit Cuba under a strict set of circumstances.
Since the restrictions were lifted, flights between the U.S. and Cuba have become commonplace and trade has soared. Donald Trump’s administration is reportedly reviewing relations with Cuba, but has not yet taken any action.
Meanwhile, Cuban leaders have reiterated their desire to keep the changes brought about by the Obama administration. “The current government of the United States has said it is reviewing its policy towards Cuba. We reiterate our readiness for dialogue and cooperation on the basis of the absolute respect for our sovereignty,” Bruno Rodríguez, Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said during an interview last month.