Dominican businessmen see the Cuba – US reconciliation as positive
SD. Cuba, a threat or an opportunity? This question takes on relevance given the foreseeable scenario of the elimination of the commercial embargo which for more than 54 years the United States has maintained against the largest of the Antillean islands. On Wednesday, the United States and Cuba took a great leap forward towards the normalization of their political and commercial relations, so that just as the Spanish newspaper El País says, “This puts an end to the Cold War in America.” This happened 25 years after the fall of the Berlin wall.
The end of the embargo points in the same direction in which negotiations are headed for a bilateral commercial agreement between the European Union and Cuba. In the framework of the Cariforo, the Dominican Republic already has an Agreement of Economic Association with the European Union, since October 2008. Likewise since March 2007, it is part of the Free Trade Treaty with the United States and Central America (DR – CAFTA).
In these markets a post-embargo Cuba could represent for the country competition, but also opportunities.
At its beginnings, the embargo opened the doors for the Dominican Republic to become the principal world exporter of premium cigars, displacing the Cubans, which under the famous brand of Montecristi could not reach the markets of the United States. As of 2013 tobacco exports to the US brought in US $600 million.
In June 2014, and perhaps as a prelude to the end of the embargo, Cuba approved its new Law of Foreign Investment, which among other things reduces from 30% to 15% the taxes on earnings. With mega projects such as the famous Cuban beach of Varadero and that of the central logistics port of Mariel, Cuba has been preparing to take advantage of the opportunities of the post-embargo era, and attract a constant and growing flow of foreign investment for which the Dominican Republic will have to compete. But a growing flow of foreign investment, although it is disputed by Cuba, can also be taken advantage of by the Dominican Republic through commerce or through an agreement of multi-destination tourism.
A Cuba with a growing economy, more than a threat, represents an opportunity for the Dominican Republic. The commercial exchange between both countries is US $126 million and the evidence points towards both governments wanting to strengthen this. Carlos Raul de la Nuez, the new Cuban ambassador in the Dominican Republic said last 20 November that he expects the start of negotiations to begin on a bilateral commercial agreement.
This Wednesday, Arturo Villanueva, the vice president of the Tourism and Hotel Association of the Dominican Republic, told the press: “we are not worried about the tourist competition with Cuba, since now more tourists will come to the Caribbean.”
A Cuba without the embargo attracts foreign investment and creates new commerce in the Caribbean, which could be taken advantage of by its neighbors. The Dominican Republic is part of the 118 countries of the United Nations who in October 2014, for the 23rd straight year, called for an end to the blockade of Cuba.
This represents an opportunity, because the country can take advantage of this flow of investment and commerce which will be generated in the Caribbean area, declared economist Fernando Alvarez Bogaert to the press. Integration is commerce. President Danilo Medina called the news regarding the end to the embargo “excellent.” At the same time Dilma Roussoff, the President of Brazil, declared that “it would promote integration even more.”
Tourism principles say impact would be minimum
SD. The reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba will not create a strong impact on Dominican tourism, although it does put it on alert in order to reinforce some points that will strengthen even more the Dominican Republic as a destination of the region, said yesterday some of the principal players among those tied to the sector.
For the Minister of Tourism, Francisco Garcia, contrary to what one might think “this opening will increase the tourism flow to the Caribbean” and in the case of the Dominican Republic even more because it offers a more diversified product.
“Our offer is ever more diverse. We have beaches, the greatest number of golf courses in the region (26), cultural and ecological tourism. And even more important we are the best hosts,” he emphasized.
He recalled that the Dominican Republic is considered to be the leader in the Caribbean region by the World Tourism Organization, due to its exemplary performance and its great growth.
Nonetheless, Garcia said that the country should continue increasing its promotion and work hand-in-hand with the private sector.
Also for the hotelier Joel Santos, the impact will be minimum, since Cuba will have to make important investments in infrastructure, and before those gradual changes, the Dominican Republic will have the possibility to continue making transformations in the sector.”
In his judgment, the country should continue strengthening cultural tourism, better train the hotel personnel, as well as explaining more its history, “here we have sufficient incidents to create a historic vision, we can do it with the very same contemporary history Santos said that “a great part of the tourism that we receive is already open for many years to the competition with Cuba, particularly the European and Canadian markets that are of maximum importance for the 2 countries. In this opportunity the impact for the country will be minimum.”
He indicated that at the present time the country not only competes with Cuba but also with other destinations such as Mexico and Jamaica, among others.
Political scientists say DR will benefit from opening of Cuba
Political scientists consulted said they felt that the rapprochement between the United States and Cuba will have a positive political result for the country.
For the rector of the Global Institute of Higher Studies in Social Sciences, Marcos Villaman, this opening in the diplomatic relations creates political pressure for the country, since the human capital of the Cubans is very good and their educational system is among the best in the region.
He argued that this step will translate into a greater collaboration between the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the United States.
“It is beneficial to us in the sense that the possibilities of cooperation from there to here, and in the case of Cuba in education and sports,” he emphasized.
The political scientist specialized in international relations, Luis Gonzalez, estimated that the opening of a power such as Cuba in health and education will attract the attention of the world more towards the Caribbean and in tourism they will promote the multi-destination model.
“This event is a strengthening for the region. From the geopolitical point of view it is positive for the world and for us,” he said.
González said that the United States is playing a strategy with the reestablishment of its diplomatic relations with Cuba, since, it is his understanding, that the United States is losing space in the world, due to the ascension of China, India and Russia.
For its part, the opposition coalition called the Convergence said that the decision reached by both governments represents a universal democratic desire, since in each one of the sessions of the United Nations the voting in favor of this opening and the removal of the embargo have been practically unanimous and they have been reiterated on more than 10 consecutive years.
“President Barack Obama recognized the futility of this old policy to change the Cuban political model which continues being an internal affair and of inherent free will for its self-determination. You have to admit, nevertheless, that this is been an important and daring gesture moved by a United States opinion ever more favorable to the removal of the embargo,” they said.
Category: DR News |