If the joint enterprise, Havana Club Internacional, had been able to sell its rum in the U.S. market, it would have made over 100 million dollars in the period from March 2013 to 2014. This figure is just one of the many that encompass the losses Cuba has suffered over the years thanks to the arbitrary policy of the blockade. The U.S. economic, commercial and financial blockade on Cuba has caused, during the past year, losses of over 102 million dollars to the Ministry of Food Industry (MINAL) alone, as was stated in a press conference held October 9.
Betsy Díaz Velázquez, vice minister of MINAL, noted that this income could have served to improve industry and produce more varied and better quality goods. She highlighted the losses in exports of goods and services, the implications for production and the increased costs due to the restrictions on trade.
Antonio Guerra, director of the export company, Caribez, explained that Cuba is unable to export its fishing produce to the United States, a market which could consume almost the entire stock, especially with regards to lobster tails and prawns, which are duty free there. Meanwhile, having been “forced” to trade with other countries where these products are taxed, Caribex has lost close to half a million dollars.
Juan González Escalona, president of the Cuban Rum Corporation and the joint venture Havana Club Internacional, referred to the severe effects of the blockade in this sector, “The international market for premium brands of rum reached an estimated 45 million cases in 2013, of which approximately 40% were consumed by the United States. Havana Club is the leading premium rum in several countries including Germany, Italy, the UK, Switzerland, Peru, Bolivia and the Netherlands…However, the absurd policy of our northern neighbor prevents Cuba from conquering the U.S. market.”
The damage to the Cuban economy associated with rising freight costs and the rising price of certain raw materials which can only be obtained from distant suppliers, were also topics of discussion. Amongst the affected entities are Los portales S. A, Papas & Co, Stella, the imports and exports company, Alimpex, and the joint venture, Bucanero.
Betsy Diaz also noted how, “year after year the losses incurred due to the blockade rise. The strengthening of the policy is seen in the fines imposed since 2013 on banks and companies that deal with Cuban counterparts.”
National bodies have highlighted the high financial costs they are forced to incur due to exchange rates and the need to maintain very high levels of stock due to the geographic location of suppliers, which leads to significant restrictions on resources.