Radio Cadena Agramonte
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Monday, December 5, 2011

The United States, a Trade Partner of Cuba?

Any dictionary defines the words to trade as "buying and selling for" or "to interchange products". In terms of commercial relations between two nations they would mean then to execute such transactions in a bilateral way.

Having said that, it can be asked: is the United States a trade partner of Cuba?

It is true that an important amount of nutritional products comes from the US to Cuba - and only in that direction-, but under what conditions?

The barriers imposed are clear. Authorized sales only include foods and medicines, although the regulations for these make their purchase almost impossible, as proof must be given of their ultimate use. The payment must be in cash, because it is prohibited to grant credits, and the transportation of the merchandise cannot take place in Cuban boats.

North American entrepreneurs cannot buy products or invest in Cuba - in spite of their ever increasing interest in so doing -, and business contacts are extremely restricted.

And there is more. Cuba continues without being able to freely export and import products and services of any kind towards or from the United States in normal conditions, like any other country in the world.

Cuba is not allowed to use the US dollar in its transactions, including payments to the United Nations and other international organizations.

The Caribbean nation cannot have accounts in US dollars in banks in third countries or access credits from US banking institutions, their branches in other nations or from international institutions like the World Bank or the Inter American Development Bank.

Cuba is still prohibited from dealing with subsidiaries of US companies in third nations. The entrepreneurs who do so are exposed to high financial sanctions, according to the laws that sustain the economic and commercial blockade of Cuba, with a marked extraterritorial character.

Only during the government of President Barack Obama, they have fined organizations or citizens more than 1.1 billion dollars for dealing with Cuba, an amount superior to that registered in previous US administrations.

Can that be called trade?, we asked Doctor Luis René Fernandez Tabío, professor and auxiliary investigator of the Center of Hemispheric and US Studies of the University of Havana.

"Trade, as such, does not exist, because what occurs between both countries at the present time is limited to the importation by Cuba of farm and food products originating in the United States, a process submitted to strict regulations that limit it considerably.

"It is not trade, because Cuba cannot export merchandise nor offer services to the United States, except some lines like works of art and publications, which is of little significance.

"When we represent the "commercial relations" between both countries in a graph, we see a single line of Cuban imports, almost totally of nutritional products.

"These transactions must be paid in cash before the goods leave US ports, which is contrary to international trading regulations. Since they cannot use US currency, the Cuban companies and banks suffer losses. Let's remember that there are no direct operations between Cuban and North American banks either .

"Even the charter flights for trips authorized by the US administration must be only by means of US airlines and not by regular flights, which creates many inconveniences and obstacles in the transportation".

Does that one-way relationship only affect Cuba?, we asked.

"As they attempt to asphyxiate the Cuban economy, this does not only act against Cuba, but also against the interests of the United States. That is so because the economic sanctions, imposed for more than five decades by the US government, have been blocking the participation of US economic interests in trade and investments in the island", he said.

"In addition they reinforce the climate of confrontation that, indirectly, prevents other aspects of the relations, like academic, sporting, cultural and even familiar and personal.

"Even though the Obama administration opened spaces for the latter, they cannot be considered as totally normal, but are rather regulated and with several restrictions.

"Actually, with such policies very high costs are assumed and counter-productive effects are obtained, if it is accepted that the objective is to cause the collapse of the Cuban government. The economic sanctions, like the blockade, contrary to what the US supposes, serve to strengthen the unity of the Cuban society, instead of fragmenting it and breaking its political and social system.

"Also they have managed to stimulate a more diversified and independent economic development that promotes a greater self-sufficiency and the improvement of its socioeconomic system.

" Without disregarding its economic costs, the blockade has created the urgency to produce the necessary goods and diversify international economic and political relations to the maximum, looking for substitutes and alternative sources of assets to obtain economic invulnerability". (Prensa Latina)