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Cuba: The Learning Curve Of Doing Business On The Island — From Entrepreneurship To Telecommunications


U.S. government officials who are playing a key role in firming up ties with the Cuban regime and paving the road to more open trade and travel, say that there have been important strides.
But they stressed that big challenges also loom – among the most formidable is a reluctance by Cuban officials to loosen or cede control over the way business is done on the island, and over telecommunications.
Alex Lee, the U.S. State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for South America and Cuba, said at a symposium on Cuba on Friday in New York City that undoubtedly  there’s been “a profound shift in paradigm in relation toward Cuba.”
“We have moved smartly … to initiate a variety of changes,” even amid the restrictions posed by the decades-long trade embargo, Lee said. “The regulatory changes are real significant…we identified areas we want both countries to expand.”
Lee was one of the speakers at the conference called: “Cuba: The Year in Review and a Look to the Future,” jointly organized by Americas Society/Council on the Americas and the CAF Development Bank of Latin America. Speakers included other U.S. government officials involved in restoring U.S.-Cuba diplomatic ties, professors from the University of Havana and organizations that are helping U.S. businesses explore opportunities on the island.
Lee spoke of discussions between the two countries about passenger ferry service from South Florida to Cuba and about opportunities for U.S.-Cuban business ventures in the area of telecommunications.
“We’ve seen some definite moves by the Cuban government in the establishment of Wi-Fi on the island,” he said, while noting that such technology remains financially prohibitive for most Cuban citizens.
“We’re getting very very close to establishing mail service between both countries,” Lee added.
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