Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chamber planning trade mission to Cuba

Chamber planning trade mission to Cuba
By INDERIA SAUNDERS ~ Guardian Business Reporter ~

The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce is casting its eyes west to neighboring
Cuba to explore trade opportunities — a move set to establish
connections in that market well ahead of expected growth in that economy.

The Chamber has planned a meeting timed for the first week in November,
around Havana's 27th annual Trade Fair, said its Executive Director
Philip Simon.

"Over time there is the expectation that the market of Cuba will be more
liberalized," he told Guardian Business. "Whether in services or in
trade of goods, there are opportunities for commerce to explore between
The Bahamas and Cuba as it was in many years past."

It's one of many BCC missions to target trade with emerging markets,
said Simon, indicating the purpose of the mission was to examine, assess
and access trade opportunities. While he said the level of interest in
the mission cannot be confirmed at this time, the chamber executive
points to real potential for trade with Cuba for Bahamian businesses.

That's centered around the close proximity of that communist country to
The Bahamas. It's a short distance that should facilitate shipping and

"It makes sense then that with a market the size of Cuba being in close
proximity to us that the possibility of relations be further explored,"
Simon added.

The move comes as concerns arise from foreign suppliers and investors in
Cuba about a block the government in that country has placed on them
from retrieving funds from local accounts that were set up to facilitate
business. It's an issue springing up around the global cash crunch and
Cuba's government subsequently blocking any repatriation of those funds.
Suppliers and investors in that nation have been unable to get official
information on the matter ever since, according to global reports.

It's a problem Gershan Major, the BCC's chairman of Globalization and
Foreign Relations Committee, said the group is willing to face head on.

"This is not dissimilar from other trade missions we've had," he told
Guardian Business. "Part of what we are intending to do is examine
opportunities and barriers that may exist as well as solutions to those
barriers so we can take advantage of opportunities."

The Chamber's move to establish business ties with Cuba follows a
similar move by the national airline. Just several months ago,
Bahamasair ramped up its flights to Cuba, a deliberate attempt to
capitalize on a recent lifting of U.S. restrictions on Cuban-American

"If you look at our summer schedule, starting June 19 we're adding a
third weekly flight, so instead of two we'll have three," Bahamasair
Managing Director Henry Woods told Guardian Business in an earlier
interview. "We're putting that third flight on in anticipation of
greater demand by Cuban-Americans given the changes introduced to U.S. law."

The Chamber is now working out details around the trip — factors that
may also see the Bahamian business delegation winging its way to Cuba on
one of Bahamasair's new flights.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Nassau Guardian Online Guide (30 September 2009)

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