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Cuba’s Limitations Force US Firms to Stay on the Sidelines

In this March 22, 2013 file photo, miniature flags representing Cuba and the U.S. are displayed on the dash of an American classic car in Havana, Cuba.  The Obama administration is putting a large dent in the U.S. embargo against Cuba as of Friday, significantly loosening restrictions on American trade and investment. The new rules also open up the communist island to greater American travel and allow U.S. citizens to start bringing home small amounts of Cuban cigars after more than a half-century ban. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes, File)
In this March 22, 2013 file photo, miniature flags representing Cuba and the U.S. are displayed on the dash of an American classic car in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes, File)

 

(Gulf News) – President Barack Obama’s efforts to normalise relations with Cuba are producing a wave of enthusiasm from US firms eager to do business there, but that passion is bumping up against stubborn realities of Cuba’s limited economic capacity and uncertainty about what is permitted under both US and Cuban law.

More than 200 business people and policymakers who gathered at the Nasdaq MarketSite recently for a day-long conference on business opportunities in Cuba heard encouraging forecasts about the island’s long-term potential, tempered by sober warnings not to expect too much too soon.

“We are embarking on a process that is complicated,” said Stefan Selig, the Commerce Department’s undersecretary for international trade. “We should remember Cuba is a small country, and a poor country. I don’t think we should be overly excited about the near-term economic prospects.”

Still, there has been a flurry of business activity since mid-December, when Obama announced the most dramatic shift in US policy toward Cuba in the 55 years since the US imposed an economic embargo against the communist nation.

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