Daily Briefing – March 15, 2018

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

Kenyan president arrives in Havana for high-level talks: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta arrived in Cuba on Wednesday for a three-day state visit that will include talks on trade and health care. Kenyatta will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro on Thursday, and attend the inauguration of his country’s embassy in Havana on Friday. Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Monica Juma noted that the trip is Kenyatta’s first since his inauguration for a second and final term. “This is very deliberate,” she said. “We are here to strengthen what are historical ties between this country and Kenya but also between Cuba and Africa.” (AllAfrica, KBC Channel)

Online store makes Cuban-made jewelry available to U.S. shoppers: Cuban-made designer jewelry became available to U.S. consumers this week with the launch of the online retail store Rox 950. The site offers handmade silver jewelry from the Havana workshop of jewelry designer and private entrepreneur Rosana Vargas, who says the jewelry shows “the beauty we can create even with limited resources.” A press release bills the Rox 950 collection, featuring bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, as the first Cuban-made designer product to reach the U.S. market since the island’s 1959 revolution, although a Havana t-shirt shop offers its designs printed in the U.S. to American customers online. U.S. rules supporting Cuban private businesses allow the import of qualified Cuban products, and Cuba’s Ministry of Culture has authorized the jewelry’s export. (BusinessWire)

MSC Cruises to offer its first Cuba cruises open to U.S. citizens: MSC Cruises announced Thursday that it is expanding its Cuba voyages and making them available to Americans for the first time, joining a wave of new sailings to the island. The company, founded in Italy and registered in Switzerland, already offers Cuba voyages to non-U.S. citizens, but starting Dec. 10 it will add round-trips from Miami that will be able to carry U.S. citizens. The MSC Armonia will make Miami its homeport for its seven-night Cuba itinerary. The company says it is the only cruise line with week-long trips including two days in Havana. “This new MSC Cruises product out of Miami allows to us to further enrich our offer to North American guests,” MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato said. (Seatrade Cruise News, Cruise Industry News)

Public transport suffers as drivers leave Havana seeking better jobs: An exodus of Havana public transport drivers seeking better pay elsewhere has “seriously” hurt mobility in the Cuban capital, directors of the state-owned Provincial Transport Company said Wednesday. So far, the city is down 86 drivers, forcing the cancellation of more than 500 trips daily, said Juan Julián Caballero, general director of transportation in the city. The basic salary for the drivers is $29 a month or less, and the “unprecedented departures” have come as drivers have received “more tempting offers of salary and schedules in other work centers,” Caballero said, adding that the service is now recruiting drivers from other areas and inviting new applicants. (EFE in 14ymedio)

OPEC fund provides $25 million for Cuba water and sewer project: The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ Fund for International Development is injecting $25 million into a cooperative project with Cuba intended to improve the water and sanitation system in the historic city of Trinidad, the third city established on the island by the Spanish. Yoisel López, who is in charge of the work, said the OPEC money would provide enough money to see through the project, which is expected to benefit 30,000 people in more than 60 percent of the city. (Prensa Latina)

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