United States and Cuba to renew commercial flights and mail service
From December 10th to 17th, 2015, two significant strides were made towards increasing the commercial cooperation between the United States and Cuba: agreements to renew regular mail service and commercial flights between the two countries.
The US State Department announced Thursday, December 17, that an understanding has been made with the Cuban government to resume commercial flights. Tourist travel to Cuba from the U.S. is still prohibited but the new arrangement would allow for approved travelers to make online bookings, electronic ticketing, and a number of other services familiar to most travelers. Prior to this agreement, only charter flight services were available to and from Cuba, though commercial operators such as JetBlue and American Airlines are already offering chartered flights to Cuba.
As a result of discussions held in Miami on Thursday, December 10, the United States Postal Service and Cuba have agreed upon a pilot program to send mail directly between the two countries several times per week instead of routing it through a third country. Regular mail service and commercial flights between the United States and Cuba had been suspended since the 1960s.
The week of December 7, Ralph and Sean Gazitua traveled to Havana, Cuba, their fifth and fourth trips to the island this year respectively, to further explore business opportunities made available through the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. WTDC offers consulting and shipping services to companies interested in sending state approved shipments to Cuba from the United States.
9/22: U.S., Cuba to hold talks on normalizing airline service - Reuters
9/21: Entrepreneurs see more opportunity in Cuba under latest U.S. rules - Sun-Sentinel
9/18: U.S. eases some limits on Cuba travel and commerce - New York Times
9/17: Administration moving to further liberlize rules on trade with Cuba - Miami Herald
9/11: U.S., Cuba set agenda on improving relations - Reuters
8/18: American to operate charter flights between Los Angeles and Cuba - USA Today
8/14: Raising of the flag at U.S. Embassy Havana, Cuba (Video) - YouTube
8/14: Kerry makes whirlwind visit to Cuba for formal embassy opening - Miami Herald
8/12: Raising the flag at U.S. Embassy in Havana (Video) - YouTube
8/11: In brief trip to Havana, Kerry to preside over U.S. embassy flag raising - Miami Herald
8/07: Cuba plans boating boom as US luxury ships head to Havana - Miami Herald
7/31: U.S. envoy to UN visits Cuba's UN Mission, a first in decades - Miami Herald
7/27: Bill to boost trade with Cuba faces long odds - Miami Herald
7/23: Stonegate Bank should be ready to handle transactions with Cuba in 3 to 4 weeks - Miami Herald
7/22: U.S., Cuban banks agree to form financial link - Wall Street Journal
7/21: U.S. and Cuba reopen long-closed embassies - New York Times
7/20: After embassy opening, next chapter in U.S.-Cuba relationship begins - Miami Herald
7/14: Cuba's Mariel port, economic zone attract first foreign firms - U.S. News
5/30: Cuba formally removed from state sponsors of terrorism list - USA Today
2/13: New import rules for Cuba represent historic change - Miami Herald
2/12: U.S. senators introduce bill to lift embargo, open trade with Cuba - Miami Herald
2/05: U.S. wants to open embassy in Cuba by April - Huffington Post
12/17/14: Statement by the President on Cuba Policy changes - White House Briefing Room
Daily Business Review - What does the end of the Cuban embargo really mean?
WTDC provides consulting and transportation management for companies interested in shipping state-approved commodities to Cuba. Specific guidelines mandate which products a US company can Export to Cuba. This service is of great potential benefit to those in the construction, agriculture, and telecommunications industries.
On Friday, August 14, 2015, the American flag flew above the U.S. Embassy in Havana for the first time in 54 years.
And although tourist travel restrictions to Cuba have not changed and only U.S. Congress can fully lift the embargo, a number of smaller U.S.-Cuba policy changes have gone into effect in the first half of 2015. Most notably, the United States has removed Cuba from its list of state sponsored terrorism. Among them are changes to the amount of money that U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba can spend per day and their ability to use credit cards on the island, the ability to import a limited value of items from Cuba to the U.S., as well as easing of restrictions on the exportation of the following commodities from the United States to Cuba:
American Airlines reduces number of flights to Cuba
Bloomberg reports that American Airlines has announced that it will reduce its number of daily round trip flights from 13 to 10 next February citing weak demand. An uncertainty of the policies of President-elect Trump for U.S.-Cuba relations could further hamper operations.
Olga Ramudo, Owner of Coral Gables-based Express Travel, commented in the article that she expects other airlines to reduce their number of flights due to Cuba's lack of hotel and transportation infrastructure.
Recap of Preparing for Trade with Cuba 2016 Conference
On October 13, a day before the White House announced its most recent changes to Cuban policy, the conference 'Preparing for Trade with Cuba 2016' explored the evolving legal and business climate of normalized U.S. relations with Cuba.
Many of the speakers commented that while the barriers to business and trade are slowly coming down on the U.S. side, the embargo is still very much in effect and so far their has been limited success by U.S. companies actually finalizing business within Cuba.
Two companies who discussed their current deals in Cuba were Stonegate Bank and Delta Air Lines. Delta Air Lines representative Leonor Villanueva announced that the company will fly to Havana direct from Miami, Atlanta, and New York's JFK beginning December 1, 2016.
Dave Seleski, President & CEO of Stonegate Bank, discussed Stonegate's trailblazing role as the first U.S. bank in Cuba and the first to offer a credit card accepted at Cuban hotels
, restaurants, and other card accepting merchants.
Below Mr. Gazitua guest speaking at the 'Preparing for Trade with Cuba' Conference. Mr. Gazitua has been selected by a number of different forums to be a guest speaker on US-Cuba relations, and is avaible to attend more events; if interested please click here .
Mr. Gazita speaking at the 'Preparing for trade with Cuba' Conference.
|Mr. Gazitua showing his new Stonegate Bank Credit card
Ralph L. Gazitua, President and CEO of WTDC, and Sean P. Gazitua, WTDC Vice President, traveled with their family to Havana, Cuba, on September 18 to see the Holy Father Pope Francis as part of the pilgrimage from the Archdiocese of Miami led by Archbishop Wenski.
On Friday, August 14, 2015, Ralph L. Gazitua, WTDC President & CEO, was honored to attend both the raising of the flag at the Embassy and a flag raising at the residence of US Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis. Since President Obama’s announcement of the intent to restore relations between the US and Cuba last December, Mr. Gazitua has been involved in numerous high level meetings forecasting the coming changes. WTDC offers consulting services for companies looking to send state approved commodities to Cuba.
(8/24/15) As formal relations between the United States and Cuba continue to evolve, so do the business opportunities that exist for U.S. companies within Cuba. Ralph L. Gazitua, WTDC President & CEO, was quoted today in the USA Today article ‘Cuba and Iran not quite open for business’ by Charisse Jones:
"I jumped on it,'' he says of the new opportunity. "We want to be able to break ground . ... That's why we decided to go there.'' Click here to read more