Regional Chamber connects local companies with Cuban diplomat

Aug 28, 2015
Many local companies met Thursday to prepare for Cuban export opportunities as the island nation and the U.S. continue forging diplomatic relations.
Many local companies met Thursday to prepare for Cuban export opportunities as the island nation and the U.S. continue forging diplomatic relations.

Minister Counselor (Economic & Trade Office) Ruben Armos Arrieta of the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Washington D.C., discussed those emerging opportunities with officials from the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber and local business representatives from agricultural, construction, telecommunications, transportation, fashion and art companies. A trade mission to Cuba is tentatively planned for early 2016.

“It might be a couple of years or so until the trade embargo is lifted, but rather than react when that happens, we want local companies to already have relationships established and be first in line,” said Regional Chamber Vice President of Economic Development, North America, Sarah Boyarko.

Arrieta explained that American businesses could beat foreign competitors because of the shipping costs and time with Cuba just 90 miles from the U.S. He said the Cuban economy is growing and in need of additional foreign investment.

In anticipation of renewed trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba, the Regional Chamber and Youngstown State University initiated a local effort in April by hosting Deputy Chief Juan Lamigueiro and First Secretary Sergio Vazquez of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C. Absent of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, both nations, through an exchange of diplomatic notes, established “Interests Sections” in each other’s countries under the legal protection of the Swiss Embassies in Washington and Havana.

Since April, as relations continued to normalize, Cuba has opened an embassy and placed an ambassador in the U.S. Subsequently, State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, organized a political trip to Cuba next month with U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles.