Despite progress, Cuba still closed to most US companies

Despite progress, most US companies still can’t sell to Cuba, reports the American Journal of Transportation.

The trade embargo on Cuba is still in place and an issue in the efforts to normalize trade relations with Cuba.

Last May, Caterpillar’s chief executive,  Doug Oberhelman led a delegation of Caterpillar executives and representatives of Rimco, the Cat dealer serving Puerto Rico, to Cuba.

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Rimco will be Caterpillar’s distributor in Cuba, once business can get underway

The main event was held at the Cuban home of the late US author Ernest Hemingway, where the Caterpillar Foundation announced that it will add to its previous $500,000 to support the construction of an on-site conservation laboratory with archival storage facility.

Companies like Caterpillar are champing at the bit, waiting to do business in Cuba. Rimco will be Caterpillar’s distributor in Cuba, once business can get underway.

But the fact remains that for all the progress in the relationship between the United States and its island neighbor—and for all the many but limited steps taken by the Obama administration to jump-start business connections—full-blown business relationships are still prohibited under the embargo that was enacted in the 1960s. Only Congress can undo that state of affairs and that body appears to be in no rush to do so.

That’s why Caterpillar’s activities in Cuba are still confined to the philanthropic. The company has been supporting Cuban hospitals since 1998, and has been involved with the project to preserve Hemingway House since last March.

“We believe in the power of engagement, and our goal is to be both a business and cultural partner in Cuba for many years to come,” said Oberhelman. “For nearly 20 years, Caterpillar has called for an end to the unilateral embargo.”

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