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Cuba Normalization Presents Opportunities and Obstacles for US Firms

April 1, 2016 | Juan J. RodriguezArticles

President Obama's historic trip to Cuba demonstrates once again that we are in the midst of a new era in U.S./Cuba relations—one which will bridge the 90-mile gap between the island and its next-door neighbor to the north.

While the visit did serve to acknowledge some recent improvements, it mainly functioned as a reminder, both to Havana and to Washington, that much remains to be done to establish a productive trade relationship.

Cuba has seen a steady rise in the number of self-employed cuentapropistas in recent years, as Havana begins loosening restrictions on private enterprise and opening its doors to more foreign investment. "Cuba is a very romantic and sexy market right now," as Council of the Americas director Alana Tummino put it in a recent article in the Portland Press Herald.

Sexy as it may be, Cuba remains rife with labyrinthian regulations and restrictions, meaning US firms looking to conduct business in Cuba will have a unique set of legal and practical obstacles to navigate.

Of course, a significant impediment to US-Cuba trade is the 50 year old embargo. It will likely take some time before Congress lifts this, but in the meantime, there are a number of business opportunities available today and American businesses should begin preparing for entry into the island's complex legal and regulatory environment. 

Carey Rodriguez Milian Gonya, LLP has recognized the need for specialized legal counsel in South Florida, the inevitable jumping-off point for US business ventures in Cuba. The firm established a Cuba Practice Group led by Cuban and Cuban-descended attorneys with extensive knowledge of the risks and opportunities present on the island.

As popular support for lifting the embargo continues to rapidly expand in the U.S., the impending surge of US investment into Cuba will require localized expertise to manage effectively. "While businesses should exercise caution and awareness of complex local considerations," said CRMG partner David P. Milian, "there is no doubt that there are important business opportunities to explore without delay.”

Read the full article in the Portland Press Herald here, and find more information on CRMG's Cuba Practice Group here.