Highlights from The Economist Events’ Cuba Summit

Economist Cuba Summit

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday’s “Cuba Summit”, organized by The Economist Events, explored Cuba’s changing economic, social and political landscape and what it means for businesses planning a move into Cuba. The island nation faces many challenges as it tries to create a more dynamic and prosperous economy. The Economist editors – along with a diverse panel of business leaders, policy makers and entrepreneurs – discussed the current state of play in Cuba and the direction of economic and political reforms likely to impact that way Cuba’s economy moves from isolation to integration.

Here are some highlights from the event:

• Michael Reid opens Cuba Summit “There’s no going back” on reforms – Michael Reid is a columnist and senior editor at the Economist @theideaseconomy;
• Michael Reid quotes Raul Castro “Without haste but without pause” on change;
• Most important aspect of change in Cuba is the number of Cubans working in private sector – US Senator Jeff Flake @jeffflake;
• Politics: Congressional leadership not ready to act on Cuba matters, need Cuban action first – US Senator Jeff Flake @jeffflake;
• There aren’t sanctions against Cuba – there are sanctions against Americans – US Senator Jeff Flake @jeffflake;
• If you want to punish the Castro brothers let them deal with Spring Break once or twice – US Senator Jeff Flake @jeffflake;
• There is a potential effort to matchup and expand permitted exports to Cuba’s private sector entrepreneurs – John Smith, US Treasury;
• Banks can rely on clients’ affirmation of Cuba rules compliance – John Smith, US Treasury;
• UN supporting creation of microcredits and private sector in Cuba – Jessica Faieta @jessicafaieta;
• Microcredits are emerging feature of Cuba’s fledgling private sector, vital for Cubans’ commercial-cultural identity;
• US government can’t confirm or deny rumors of another round of changes to Cuba regulations;Economist Cuba Summit
• Challenge of currency reform in Cuba: Gradualism gives enemies the opportunity to sabotage reforms;
• Our interest is based on the potential market – Scott Laurence @JetBlue;
• It should cost $150 to fly to Cuba from S. Florida not $450 – Scott Laurence @JetBlue;
• Pain ahead for devaluation, export substitution, currency unification. Better to quickly rip Band-Aid off;
• It’s more important how we use the [foreign invest] law to attract capital into Cuba – Roberto Torres, Professor of Economics and Cuban economy at the University of Havana and CLALS Research Fellow @au_clals;
• Currency reform should start by phasing out one of the currencies but predictions are hard to make – Ricardo Torres, Professor of Economics and Cuban economy at the University of Havana and CLALS Research Fellow @au_clals;
• There really is a third currency in Cuba and that’s the U.S. dollar – Dave Seleski, CEO, Stonegate Bank;
• Real estate prices have gone “bananas” in Havana – Dave Seleski, CEO, Stonegate Bank;
• Cuba needs to level the playing field to address the contradiction between the private sector and state owned entities – Ricardo Torres, Professor of Economics and Cuban economy at the University of Havana and CLALS Research Fellow @au_clals;
• David Pathe, CEO, Sherritt Intrnational, speaks remotely from Canada about his Cuba businesses due to violations of Helms-Burton Act;
• Forecasting more hydrocarbon drilling on a new block in 2016, onshore and near-shore – David Pathe, CEO, Sherritt International;
• “First movers in Cuba get the lobster” – William Lane @CaterpillarInc;
• Impressive progress in Cuba’s Mariel Free Trade Zone, industrial park and logistics zone – Andrew McDonald, Esencia Group;
• Price of electricity in Cuba 4-5x the price in Europe;
• Marabou trees potential to generate electricity as forest biomass;
• Cuba government will never accept the IMF’s conditionalities;
• US farmers care about not being able to trade with Cuba – Devry Boughner Vorwerk @Cargill;
• We there is overwhelming support for the end of the embargo – Devry Boughner Vorwerk @Cargill;
• Organic farming is having impact and creating opportunity in Cuba, Fernando Monzote, Cuban farmer;
• Cuba has “Cuban industrial health complex” – Dr. James Fitzgerald @pahowho;
• Medical tourism is promising but is also a double-edge sword – Dr. James Fitzgerald @pahowho;
• 81% increase in Cuban doctor migration since 2012 – – Dr. James Fitzgerald @pahowho;
• There’s a lot of space in the immediate future for Cubans – Bill Belt, Consumer Technology Association @beltarounddc;
• Cuba’s undersea cable saga ignites excitement, questions about human ties that bind Cuba and US via Internet- Doug Madury @dougmadory @dyn;Economist Cuba Summit
• Municipal broadband Internet build-out with government participation is Cuba’s digital future – Bill Belt, Consumer Technology Association @beltarounddc;
• “The best mechanics in the world are in Cuba. These guys can make the Titanic sail again.” – Predro Freyre @akerman_law;
• Last year, the number of Cuba’s graduates declined 21% due to economic challenges – Predro Freyre @akerman_law;
• Cuba needs several forms of investment like “soft infrastructure” or incentives – Ricardo Torres, Professor of Economics and Cuban economy at the University of Havana and CLALS Research Fellow @au_clals;
• The source of microfinancing for Cuba’s new paladares is out of Hialeah – Predro Freyre @akerman_law;
• Lessons from entrepreneurial exchange include lack of wholesale markets for Cuban restaurants – Tomas Bilbao @TomasBilbao;
• We’re seeing a lot of participation among users and no government repression – Hiram Centelles, Cuban technology entrepreneur @hcentelles;

Highlights from The Economist Events’ Cuba Summit was last modified: December 5th, 2015 by Simons Chase