Business, Chamber Execs Meet with Cuban Minister

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As the United States and Cuba take steps to normalize relations, representatives of local companies met last week to prepare for Cuban export opportunities, the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber announced Friday.

Ruben Armos Arrieta, minister counselor for the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Washington D.C., discussed  emerging opportunities with the chamber and local business representatives from agricultural, construction, telecommunications, transportation, fashion and art companies.

A trade mission to Cuba is tentatively planned for early 2016, the chamber said.

“It might be a couple of years or so until the trade embargo is lifted, but rather than react when that happens, we want local companies to already have relationships established and be first in line,” said Sarah Boyarko, vice president of economic development, North America, for the regional chamber.

According to the chamber, Arrieta explained that American businesses could beat foreign competitors because of the shipping costs and time with Cuba just 90 miles from the U.S. He said the Cuban economy is growing and in need of additional foreign investment.

In anticipation of renewed trade relations, the chamber and Youngstown State University initiated a local effort in April by hosting Deputy Chief Juan Lamigueiro and First Secretary Sergio Vazquez of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C. Absent of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, both nations, through an exchange of diplomatic notes, established “interests sections” in each other’s countries under the legal protection of the Swiss Embassies in Washington and Havana.

Since April, as relations continued to normalize, Cuba has opened an embassy and placed an ambassador in the United States.

Meantime, State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-63 Bazetta, organized a political trip to Cuba next month with U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio.

SOURCE: Regional Chamber.

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