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Cuba expected to come off U.S. terror list – Corporate America cheers

Cuba expected to come off U.S. terror list: Corporate America cheers
By Patrick Gillespie @CNNMoneyInvest

Cuba is one of only four nations still on America’s terrorism watch
list. That’s expected to change Friday, and Corporate America is cheering.
President Obama will likely announce that Cuba will be lifted from the
U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list — right before he meets with
Cuban president Raul Castro in Panama at the Summit of the Americas,
according to CNN reports.
It will be one of only a few moments since 1958 — when Eisenhower was
president — that the two countries’ presidents meet. The other
instances were mere handshakes, but Obama is expected to “interact” with
Castro, according to the White House.
Lifting Cuba off the terror list is the latest step to encourage U.S.
businesses to enter Cuba. Obama first declared renewed relations with
Cuba in December, but a number of hurdles remain.
Companies moving in: Netflix (NFLX, Tech30), Airbnb, American Express
(AXP) and Mastercard (MA) have already put a foot in Cuba’s door — a
virtual foot though. None of those companies actually have an office or
employees in Cuba.
Over 200 business leaders congregated last week at the Cuba Opportunity
Summit in New York, co-hosted by Nasdaq and UPenn’s Wharton School.
“Cuba presents probably the largest opportunity — outside of China —
to grow our industry,” Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines
(NCLH), a Miami-based company, told CNBC last week.
Airlines and tourism companies stand to benefit from American travelers’
pent up demand to see Cuba, which has been off limits for 50 years. Plus
Cuba offers what most in the Caribbean don’t: beautiful beaches and a
big, historic city. JetBlue (JBLU) already charters flights to Cuba, but
it wants to start commercial flights, a sentiment echoed by other airlines.
The roadblocks: But experts caution: don’t expect planes and cruises to
embark to Cuba tomorrow. The embargo against Cuba is still in place and
the country’s infrastructure is in need of major upgrades. All business
opportunities seem to be long-term goals.
Still, crossing Cuba off the terror list is a move in the right
direction, experts say.
“President Obama’s recommendation that Cuba be removed from the
[terrorism] list will be the first step in a series of steps that will
make it easier for U.S. companies to do business there,” says Alana
Tummino, policy director at the Council of the Americas.
Cuba badly needs an infrastructure update. Few Cubans have internet
access, creating an opportunity for internet providers, like Verizon
(VZ, Tech30) and AT&T (T, Tech30), to corner the Cuban market.
Food and agriculture stand to win too. Caterpillar sees Cuba, with all
its farmland, as a big opportunity for its farming equipment business.
Caterpillar (CAT) and food supplier Cargill have separately lobbied for
the embargo to be lifted.
Getting Cuba off the terror list doesn’t eliminate other obstacles. The
embargo is the elephant in the room, and it’s unclear how friendly the
Cuban government will be to U.S. businesses. But corporate America will
be one step closer to Cuba.
“We’ve already cracked the door open,” says Carl Meacham, director of
the Americas program at the Center for Strategic & International
Studies. “The U.S. is the biggest winner here.”
Related: U.S. airlines eager to fly to Cuba

Travel companies that can get you to Cuba
CNNMoney (New York) April 10, 2015: 2:23 PM ET

Source: Cuba expected to come off U.S. terror list: Corporate America
cheers – Apr. 10, 2015 –

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