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US-Cuba Reviewed Relationship – Dr. Jacqueline Laguardia Martinez The good news is that ‘the-time-to-go-to-Cubais-now’ criteria seems to be gaining momentum in the Caribbean. Cuba is recognised as a potential 11 million consumers market, with highly educated and healthy labour force, low crime rates and countless unexploited opportunities to start business in almost every sector. For CARICOM member states possibilities increase since they enjoy particular advantages to improve economic relations with Cuba. Among them, we highlight the historical bonds of diplomatic relations and cooperation programmes cemented since 1972 when four young independent Caribbean states decided to break the policy of isolation towards Cuba promoted by the United States, the 2000 Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between CARICOM and Cuba revised in 2014 and the Trinidad and Tobago Trade Facilitation Office functioning in Havana. Cuba can be an attractive market for Caribbean products and services, act as regional hub through the Mariel port and be part of multi-destination tourism cruises routes, just to mention some real possibilities in the horizon. At the same time, Caribbean partners could

provide entrepreneurial experience to their Cuban counterparts, particularly in the services area with major emphasis in the tourism sector. Interesting opportunities are likewise present in the culture industries sector. Cuba cultural rich life, its traditions, landscapes, architecture, rhythms, colours, urban life, have caught the attention of artists and entrepreneurs that have rightfully assessed the growing value of the ‘Cuba’ brand. In spite of the many regulations still in place that prevent American doing business and going to Cuba, first moves have been already taken in the entertainment sector beyond the constantly reported visits of international celebrities to Havana. Another attractive area for boosting Caribbean participation in Cuba, that also appeals US attention, is medical services due to the international legacy of Cuban health care. First steps have also been made in that direction from the US side. The opportunities that Cuba represents as an attractive economic niche are not solely consequences of the drastic change of its relations with the United States. Inner transformations as the mega-port and

UWI Pelican Issue 14  
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