Daily Briefing – October 20, 2017

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

The price of water: A severe drought and coastal flooding from hurricanes has made it difficult for Cuba to provide clean water for its citizens and tourists. Cuba needs about $3.5 billion to repair and modernize its potable water systems, according to a report by the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy. It will be difficult for Cuba to update it aging water infrastructure because it is not a member of major international financial institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank. Still, there are some examples of the private sector stepping in to improve Cuba’s water infrastructure. (Cuba Trade)

Foreign investment fair aims higher: The 2017 edition of Cuba’s portfolio of investment opportunities will include more than 400 projects – up from last year’s 395 projects. The portfolio will be showcased at the Havana International Fair, Cuba’s most important trade exposition, from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. Minister of Foreign Investment Rodrigo Malmierca said the portfolio will highlight sectors that are priorities for Cuba, as well as projects that align with the country’s 2030 development plan. Malmierca said only 16 U.S. businesses are expected to attend the fair, a drop from last year. (EFE and 14ymedio)

The stakes behind Cuba’s allegiance to Venezuela: Cuba is unlikely to condemn Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s power grabs even though the Venezuela-Cuba partnership has dwindling prosperity. While deliveries of cheap Venezuelan oil to Cuba have plummeted in recent years, the South American country still delivers tens of thousands of barrels of crude per day. Cuba will remain dependent on that oil because it’s unlikely any country can offer it a deal as favorable as Venezuela. (Cuba Trade)

Punishing without evidence: There is not enough evidence to justify the punitive measures the State Department has taken in response to the mysterious “attacks” that harmed at least 22 U.S. diplomats and family members in Havana, writes Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). The State Department slashed personnel and cut off all consular services at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, expelled 15 officials from the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., and updated a travel warning for Cuba. Leahy says the moves will create “further distance between our two governments and may make this harder to solve.” He says there is a clear motivation from foreign adversaries, like Russia, to destroy the U.S.-Cuba détente. (Huffington Post)

Another call to investigate “attacks” in Havana: Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) wrote a letter to the State Department urging it to investigate the mysterious “attacks” that harmed American government workers in Havana, even though the U.S. government has investigated the attacks for the better part of a year. The FBI is leading an investigation to determine who and what is attacking U.S. personnel, according to the State Department. Wilson wrote the letter after a South Carolina man told AP that he felt numbness spread throughout his body during a 2014 stay in a Havana hotel linked to the incidents. (Associated Press and Seattle Times)

Breaking away from medical missions: Cuban doctors working in Brazil are trying to break away from a tripartite deal between Cuba, Brazil and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Under the deal, Cuba sends doctors to Brazil in exchange for money, while PAHO mediates. A growing number of Cuban doctors oppose the arrangement because the Cuban government receives most of the money for their services. (14ymedio)

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