The U.S.-Cuba Business Council met on Monday as the 2015 Havana International Trade Fair (Fihav) in Havana as this year’s trade fair got underway at the EXPOCUBA fairgrounds.
The council was created earlier this year as part of a cooperation of the Chambers of Commerce of both countries.
The council’s meeting drew more than 50 businessmen from major U.S. companies such as Morgan Stanley, Home Depot, Caterpillar, Boeing, American Airlines, Heinz Kraft, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and Sprint, among others.
The U.S delegation was headed by Myron Brilliant, senior vice president of the American Chamber of Commerce, while Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca led the Cuban delegation, accompanied by officials and businessmen from the fields of tourism, health, industry, telecommunications, banking, transportation, and energy and mines.
According to Cuba’s National Information Agency (AIN), both parties agreed that the U.S.-led trade embargo remains the main obstacle to bilateral trade ties.
“The sizable U.S. delegation demonstrates the willingness of the U.S. business community to do business with Cuba and shows the failure of the economic blockade imposed by Washington,” Malmierca told reporters.
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, Sprint executives announced that they have signed an agreement with Cuba’s telecommunications officials to become the first U.S. wireless carrier to offer roaming service on the island nation. Sprint was already the lone American carrier to hold a direct long-distance agreement with the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA).
In an apparent contradiction, Verizon Wireless announced last month that customers who travel to Cuba can connect – including talk, messaging and data – through the company’s Pay-As-You-Go International Travel option.
This year’s fair, known by the Spanish acronym FIHAV, is the largest in 15 years, with 300 Cuban companies and 600 from 70 other countries, including 29 from the US.