Tags: Castro-Cuba | cuba | technology | companies | internet | trade

Cuba Promises Both Rewards and Challenges for High-Tech Firms

By    |   Monday, 26 January 2015 08:07 AM

There are potentially huge opportunities for U.S. technology companies to do business in Cuba now that diplomatic and economic relations are being opened. Businesses that are looking forward to a quick windfall, though, are likely to be disappointed, The Hill reported.

President Barack Obama said one of the goals of his policy is to make it easier for Cubans to access the Web. "I've authorized increased telecommunications connections between the United States and Cuba," he said.

"Businesses will be able to sell goods that enable Cubans to communicate with the United States and other countries."

Josefina Vidal, the Cuban diplomat responsible for making the island accessible to U.S. telecommunications companies, announced that she was ready to talk about business opportunities that "could be of benefit to both sides," according to USA Today.

But political uncertainty in the U.S. regarding how far the Republican-controlled Congress will allow the Obama White House to go in normalizing relations is just one of several unknowns facing companies that want to invest in Cuba.

The administration's rules for what may be sold still needs to be legally fleshed out.

Another obstacle is how far the island's communist regime is prepared to go in allowing Internet and communications companies to penetrate the Cuban market. Cubans have little freedom of unfettered access to the Web and those 5 percent who do are saddled with archaic equipment, the Hill reported.

Cuba, potentially, offers a "wonderful" business opportunity because it has the "least developed telecommunications system in the Americas," said Scott Belcher of the Telecommunications Industry Association.

At the same time, according to Laura Reed of Freedom House, "Cuba remains one of the most heavily restricted environments for Internet use in the world," The Hill reported.

A further complication is that Cuba is on the State Department list of terror-sponsoring states, primarily because of its support for Basque and Colombian terrorists.

That means that exports of electronic equipment to Cuba would require special approvals.

Jack Nadler, a partner at the international legal firm of Squire Patton Boggs and an expert in telecommunications markets, told The Hill that lots of companies are keen to do business with Cuba.

"Anybody that thinks they're going to jump into Cuba, it's going to be easy and they're going to make a lot of money quickly, they're going to be sorely disappointed," he said.

"But I think companies that recognize this as a high-risk but potential high-long-term-reward situation," Nadler said, "will have some good opportunities in an exciting but very challenging market," the Hill reported.

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There are potentially huge opportunities for U.S. technology companies to do business in Cuba but businesses that are looking forward to a quick windfall, though, are likely to be disappointed, The Hill reports.
cuba, technology, companies, internet, trade
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2015-07-26
Monday, 26 January 2015 08:07 AM
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