Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 2015.
The Club House at Instituto Superior de Arte. The campus is built on the site of an old golf course that was “reclaimed” after the revolution, 2007. The Cuban government has taken increasingly large steps in recent years toward economic liberalization. Cuba issued a pair of surprising free-market decrees on Thursday Aug. 27, 2010, allowing foreign investors to lease government land for up to 99 years, potentially touching off a golf-course building boom, and loosening state controls on commerce to let islanders grow and sell their own fruit and vegetables. Source: Flickr.
Attendees of the “Cuba Opportunity Summit” – held on April 1, 2015 by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania at the NASDAQ Marketsite in New York City – consisted mainly of American companies and entrepreneurs, who are caught up with the gold rush-like fervor over the prospect of finally doing business with Cuba. That island, which has endured a harsh trade embargo imposed by Washington since its takeover by Fidel Castro and his Communist revolution, is perhaps the ultimate frontier market on the planet, since American companies have been forbidden from conducting any trade with that regime for decades. The one glaring exception has been the opening of food trade, which Bill Clinton allowed before leaving office in 2000. Cuba has since become a multi-million-dollar market for various U.S. agricultural and food products.
President Obama’s December 2014 announcement to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba, which will presumably increase food export opportunities, travel, as well as openings in areas like banking, telecommunications and building supplies, is being viewed in many circles as a process that will ultimately end the ongoing U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Speakers at the Wharton Cuba Summit, which was covered by CNBC (complete with on-site interviews by its Chief International Correspondent, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera), included top executives from Norwegian Cruise Line, Discovery Networks, Thomas Herzfeld Advisors, and NASDAQ, along with a stream of U.S. government officials (headed by Roberta Jacobson – Asst. Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs – who’s been leading Washington’s negotiations with Cuban officials to normalize diplomatic relations between the two countries), as well as think tanks from the Brookings Institute to the Americas Society. In other words, Cuba has finally “arrived” – receiving long overdue “prime-time” attention in the United States. Even some of the Cuban government officials that showed up were overwhelmed by the attention they were getting from fellow attendees.