Daily Briefing – August 9, 2017

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A daily look at deals, events and transactions of note for trade and investment in Cuba.

Measuring the military’s footprint in the economy: Cuba experts disagree on the Cuban military’s participation in the economy. Some claim the military controls up to 60 percent of the economy. An analysis conducted by economist Emilio Morales challenges that claim. It concluded that military-controlled enterprises only contributed about 21 percent of the country’s gross income in 2016. What’s behind the huge difference? (Cuba Trade Magazine)

Ag Secretary tepid on Cuba trade: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who advocated for closer ties to Cuba as the governor of Georgia, expressed doubts over Cuba’s future as an export market. “While we think it’s a good market, actually there are better markets to go after in Southeast Asia, in Europe, South Korea, Japan, and developing markets in other places,” Perdue said. He said the problem with Cuba is its “inability to pay for it.” He added that extending private market credit to Cuba might be helpful for agriculture exports, but using taxpayer-funded credits “would be very selfish on our part.” Perdue also praised President Donald Trump for “not rewarding a nation that’s oppressed the people like the Cuban people have been oppressed over the years.” (saukvalley.com)

Positive outlook for Norwegian cruises to Cuba: Norwegian Cruise Line, which has three brands that started sailing to Cuba this year, says its voyages to the island have been selling strong. “Our voyages to Havana have been a home run,” Norwegian president and CEO Frank Del Rio said during a call with analysts. (Skift)

Confusion weakens demand for traveling to Cuba: President Trump’s tough talk on Cuba did more to weaken demand for traveling to the island than his actual policy directive, according to some tour operators. Many potential travelers are confused by the travel restrictions because Trump said he was “canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” when in reality he only made a few adjustments. The Trump administration’s final regulations are not expected to directly impact group people-to-people travel that is typically coordinated by tour operators and cruise lines. (Travel Pulse)

A Cuba financing system in the works: Cuba Ventures Corp. signed a letter of intent with Al-Fahim Technologies Group to create a financing system for short to medium term loans for “numerous Cuba related opportunities” not linked to the government, military and security forces. The initial funding, agreed by Al-Fahim Technologies Group is about $59 million. Cuba Ventures Corp. also announced it acquired an equity interest in a Florida travel agency that specializes in trips to Cuba.  (Globe News Wire)

Cuba’s influence on Maduro: In addition to sending doctors, intelligence officials and other service professionals to Venezuela, Cuba also plays an important advisory role in Venezuela that prevents it from becoming isolated and descending into more chaos. Cuba’s alliance with Venezuela influenced the 12 member states of the Union of South American Nations (USAN) to issue no criticism of Venezuela’s new constituent assembly. Mercosur also did not fully expel Venezuela for its crackdown on democracy, but only suspended its membership temporarily. (Deutsche Welle)

Countries in the Americas pick their sides over Venezuela: The foreign ministers of 17 countries in the Americas gathered in Lima on Tuesday to sign a declaration to reject Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly. The declaration says democratic order in Venezuela is broken, and the only way to restore it is by nullifying the July 30 election. Meanwhile, on Wednesday the foreign ministers of ALBA countries (Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador) adopted a resolution that reaffirms their support for Maduro and criticizes “imperialist interferences.” (EFE and 14ymedio)

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