Telecom, tourism and transport firms line up to invest in Cuba

Telecom, tourism and transport firms line up to invest in Cuba

Cuba Economy & Policy Corporate & Sovereign Strategy Funds

     
     
   Plaza de la Revolucion (RiveraNotario)  
Tourism, telecommunications, construction and agriculture are set to be the first sectors to benefit from warmer relations between the US and Cuba, experts have told LatinFinance.

Expectations are rising over the investment and financing opportunities in the Caribbean island, as a third round of talks between diplomats is held in Havana.

The great potential for tourism is on everybody’s minds. Even before travel restrictions are lifted, brands are jockeying to be one step ahead. Spanish Meliá Hotels International announced it will open its biggest hotel worldwide in Cuba, while airline Iberia has renewed its routes to the island.

Meanwhile, New Jersey-based IDT Corporation has become the first US telco to strike a deal with Cuba since looser regulations were published in January, for direct voice traffic between the two countries.

But marine transport also holds great potential. “Cuba could resume its role as a transshipment center given its natural deepwater ports,” Walter Molano, chief economist for BCP Securities, said in the March/April issue of LatinFinance.

US banks are approaching with caution, however, said Rob Rowe, vice president at the American Bankers Association (ABA). 

"It is not fully clear to bankers what they can do and what they cannot do," Rowe says.

US financial entities can now open correspondent accounts in Cuba, work with local merchants, and process credit and debit card payments made in the island by US travelers and companies.

Nonetheless, as the regulations remain in flux, banks “may not want to engage if they feel too much risk is involved,” said Andy Fernandez, partner at legal firm Holland & Knight. LF