Lining up to Profit from End of Cuba Trade Sanctions

Saturday, July 13, 2013

If the trade embargo against Cuba is ever lifted, the city of Tampa, Florida, and its many businesses hope to exploit new business opportunities with the Caribbean island nation.


Unlike Miami, whose large Cuban expatriate (and anti-Castro) population have been strong supporters of the embargo, Tampa has been working for years to build relationships with Cuba’s government. The third largest city in Florida wants to profit if trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba are normalized.


Tampa’s pro-Cuba strategy began more than a decade ago, when the city’s mayor, Dick Greco, visited the Communist country in 2002, along with 19 business leaders. Since then, a city councilwoman, Mary Mulhern, has made three trips over the last decade to Cuba, and in May, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce organized a trip for nearly 40 politicians and business leaders from Tampa to Cuba.


Local politicians see many opportunities with Cuba. The local airport could expand direct flights to Havana, while the city’s port wants cruise ships to base their Cuban voyages out of Tampa. The port could also serve as major commercial shipping center for expanded trade with Cuba.


If the plan works, Tampa’s gain could be Miami’s loss.


José Gabilondo, a Cuban-born associate professor of law with the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, told the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting that Miami “may be the only major city in Florida that’s not actively preparing for more engagement with Cuba.”


Even if Miami changes its mind and embraces a post-embargo Cuba, decades of angry rhetoric from the city’s Cuban leaders may have created bad blood with the island that could make it harder for the city’s businesses to forge alliances, according to Gabilondo.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Potential Benefits of Cuban Trade (by Eric Barton, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting)

Tampa and Miami in Cold War Over Cuban Trade (by Eric Barton, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting)

U.S. Investment with Cuba Ready to Take Off (by Lucy Benz-Rogers, AllGov)


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