Russian oil exports to Cuba were up 81% in the first few months of 2017, and a deal with Russian oil giant Rosneft will likely mean an even stronger economic relationship between the two countries in the future. The last time that Cuba and Russia enjoyed such a strong relationship was during the Cold War, when nuclear tensions between the United States and Russia had the world on edge. William M. LeoGrande, a professor at American University in Washington, D.C. and expert in Latin American affairs, spoke about these renewed ties and what might lie ahead for Cuba.
Even with US-Cuba relations up in the air, business continues as usual. Despite the negative writing on the wall from a foreign policy standpoint, companies are continuing with their plans to do business with Cuba.
Cuba gave RIMCO, Caterpillar’s Puerto Rico-based dealer, permission to set up a Caterpillar warehouse and distribution center in Cuba’s Mariel Special Economic Development Zone, envisioned by the Cuban government as the island’s economic future. After a long process of campaigning and negotiations, Caterpillar Inc. is the first US company to locate in the Cuban economic zone.
Cleveland, Ohio became the latest city to sign a port agreement with Cuba this week, making it the first agreement since the US State Department’s decision to remove American diplomats from Cuba and request the removal of Cuban diplomats from Washington.
The so-called “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed by the Darrell McNail, president of the Board of Administration of the port of Cleveland and Captain José Joaquín Prado, general director of Cuba’s Maritime Administration in Havana last Friday.
Horace Clemmons and Cuban-born business partner Saul Berenthal, owners of tractor manufacturing company CleBer LLC, have been eyeing a deal in Cuba since U.S. relations with Cuba finally eased back in 2014. Eased relations, paired with the Cuban government returning unused state-owned land to the people in hopes of stimulating growth in the agricultural industry back in 2008, have revealed to the two entrepreneurs an opportunity they are still pushing for after 3 years.
Manufacturing has been a shrinking industry in the United States since the end of World War II, when the country’s galvanized work force undertook one of the greatest military industrial efforts in history. Although manufacturing still accounts for a solid twelve percent of the United States’ GDP, today’s manufacturing industry is a far cry from the World War II days, due much in part to cheaper labor sources in countries like China and Mexico. But the industry is far from dead, and one company is looking to go where none have gone before – Cuba.
Cuban President Raúl Castro first publicly criticized President Donald Trump’s Mexican wall, along with immigration, trade, and other policies, on March 5. This comes as the Trump administration reviews the fragile relations between the U.S. and Cuba that were glued together by former President Barack Obama.
Castro made the critical remarks at a summit of leftist leaders in Venezuela that was broadcast on Cuban state-run television on Sunday evening. He called Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border “irrational,” and described his trade policies as “egotistical.”