The New York trade delegation led by Governor Andrew Cuomo generated its share of publicity here and in Cuba, prompting critics to label it a ‘publicity stunt’ and its supporters to point to the groundwork it laid in establishing ties to the Cuban private sector. Before leaving Havana, several delegation members signed two agreements with Cuban partner companies and a research institute.
The Roswell Park Cancer Institute of Buffalo, New York signed an agreement with Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology with a clinical trial to be held in the U.S. According to the Roswell Chief Executive Officer, Candace Johnson, “The agreement establishes a collaboration between our two institutions to develop a cancer vaccine in lung cancer”.
The New York City-based Infor Global Solutions Inc reached an agreement with Cuban partners to resell its software on the island nation. According to CEO Charles Phillips, “We were surprised and impressed with the level of technology and expertise they have in healthcare technology”.
Based on these agreements and the fact that Cuba has its own biotech industry and produces a number of vaccines, the health sector is expected to get high priority in future U.S.-Cuban exchanges. Successor state-led delegations might, for example, come from mid-Atlantic states, like Maryland with its BioMaryland Center and outreach to life science research and development in the U.S. and overseas.
Other delegations from the south and mid-west would very likely include agriculture and farm equipment exporters as well as airlines and transportation-related companies seeking to establish air and sea links with the island nation.
Establishing significant commercial links will, however, not be a quick or easy process requiring not only the lifting of the Cuban terrorist designation and the restoration of diplomatic relations but also an end to the Congressionally-imposed embargo.
Americans wanting to see Cuba first-hand, either by boat or private plane, should be aware that government licenses are most likely required for ‘sojourns’ to Cuba.