Opportunity for North Carolina businesses in Cuba?

imagesHAVANA (WTVD) –American businesses, large and small, are scrambling to cash-in on new opportunities to make money in Cuba.

The Obama Administration just relaxed some parts of the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, creating a new market of eleven million people just ninety miles from Florida.

“Every day, we get new calls and new inquiries and folks looking to come down and take a look and see what can be done,” said Dana Brown, the Political and Economic Counselor at the United States Embassy in Havana.

Brown is the person to call if you want to do business in Cuba.

“This is a first for U.S. companies to finally be able to have this kind of engagement and be early arrivers in a brand-new market, so people are quite thrilled and excited to be here,” said Brown.

We discovered that when you look around Havana there is a lot of potential for American businesses to do well.

Beautiful colonial buildings are dilapidated and in need of renovation, the infrastructure is crumbling, and in many ways Cuba is stuck in the 1960s and ready to move forward with American investors.

Brown says the Cuban government is hoping for investment in telecommunications, internet infrastructure and real estate projects.

“I know that is something that is of great interest to the Cuban government and very, very welcome. There’s a lot of interest in seeing increased investment participation and presence by U.S. companies,” Brown said.

We discovered that North Carolina poultry companies are already making money in Cuban government bodegas, the stores where Cubans use their food ration booklet to get chicken.

Last year, North Carolina poultry companies exported nearly $10 million in products to Cuba.

Brown says Cubans are hungry for American consumer products too, even though the average monthly salary is only $20.

“There are so many things that the United States produces. We have goods at all price points. We have goods that are very appealing to a country that is looking to expand and broaden its connection to the rest of the world, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity,” Brown added.

Brown urges businesses to follow Treasury Department and Commerce Department regulations to make sure they are in compliance with federal law.

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