PepsiCo wants in. So do Caterpillar and Marriott International.
Within hours of President Obama’s historic move to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba, companies in the United States were already developing strategies to introduce their products and services to a market they have not been in for the better part of 50 years — if ever.
“Cuba is a potential market for John Deere products and services,” Ken Golden, a spokesman for Deere & Company, a leading maker of farm and construction equipment based in Illinois, said by email.
But while there may be robust opportunities for some companies, especially those selling products or goods that could be viewed as enhancing Cuba’s own domestic production or helping to develop its underused resources, other companies could get the cold shoulder.
“For a company like McDonald’s, the Cuban government is going to ask, ‘How does McDonald’s coming in and selling hamburgers help the economy of Cuba?’ ” said Kirby Jones, founder of Alamar Associates, which has advised companies on doing business in Cuba since 1974. “It’s just not going to be like other regions where you see a McDonald’s on every corner.”
Despite Cuba’s long stagnation and isolation from the global economy, the potential trade opportunities go both ways. While some Americans will be itching at the opportunity to obtain the famed Cuban cigars more easily, the country also has a surprisingly robust biotechnology industry that makes a number of vaccines not now available in the United States. Another hot spot for the economy could be mining, as Cuba has one of the largest deposits of nickel in the world.
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