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Posted June 11, 2004 by publisher in Cuba-US Trade

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BY JANE BUSSEY | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Miami Herald

Eagle Brands Chairman Carlos de la Cruz doesn’t reject the idea of investment in Cuba, but the influential Cuban-American business leader said Thursday that he sees as many risks as rewards.

‘‘The problem that we all have is we all think that Cuba offers tremendous opportunities,’’ de la Cruz said in a keynote speech at a Coral Gables conference that examined the future of U.S.-Cuba economic relations.

Instead, de la Cruz, who is also chairman of the Coca-Cola bottlers in Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago, said that, in the case of Coca-Cola, there could be business restraints that would make establishing bottling plants in Cuba expensive and problematic.

LOGISTICAL TROUBLES

The investor, he said, would have to outfit at least two and maybe three plants because the island is long and thin. Plus, an investor would have to buy bottles, set up recycling facilities and purchase a fleet of trucks for delivery throughout the island, de la Cruz told about 60 diplomats, academics and business executives in attendance.

The forum, presented by Florida International University in partnership with Holland & Knight, was a daylong affair at the Biltmore Hotel.

For more than a decade, state and local governments and private groups have carried out a series of studies attempting to predict Cuba’s future and quantify potential business opportunities after a change in government in Cuba, where President Fidel Castro has ruled since 1959.

But de la Cruz said the future is unpredictable and that Cuban leaders will change the system “when they want to change it.’‘

‘‘Cuba is a myth,’’ said de la Cruz, referring to the expectations prompted by all the studies and plans. ‘‘We live in Never-Never Land and use Monopoly money’’ in all these efforts “to analyze what is going to happen in Cuba.’‘

Taking issue with forecasts of huge potential, the soft drink bottler said there was no reason to expect investments in Cuba would be more profitable than other countries in the region.

‘‘Why should it be any easier in Cuba than it is in the Dominican Republic?’’ he asked.

BILLIONS NEEDED

Earlier in the day. Tim Lynch, the director of the Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis at Florida State University, listed investment needs in Cuba. They are estimated at more than $2 billion for telecommunications, mass transit and infrastructure.

David J. Goldfield, regional director of the Export Development Corp. of Canada and former Canadian ambassador to Cuba, warned U.S. businesses about possible missteps and misconceptions about Cuba.

‘‘It would be a disservice to U.S. business to assume a post-Castro Cuba will be a blank slate,’’ Goldfield said. ‘‘There are myriad business relationships’’ that will continue.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on June 12, 2004 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Cuba does need money but Cuba does and will run the show.

    As much as US businesses and American entrepreneurs would just like to go down there and start selling products and services, Cuba will tell you what they want, when they want it, who will work for your company in Cuba, how much money you will make, who (if any) your competition will be etc etc.

    We will play by their rules. The gates of opportunity will not simply open up.

    You won’t see Walmarts or McDonald’ down there anytime soon. If/when you do, I expect that Cuba is in charge of the operations, marketing, labor etc.



    Cuba consulting services

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