Most US companies are still blocked by the trade embargo of 53-year-old, although Obama has relaxed some of the rules relating to imports, travel and telecommunications. That has allowed minor deals such as Netflix streaming movies and Airbnb Cuba with online rental housing.
If Obama can convince Congress to end the embargo, US companies would be free to do business, but still face major obstacles, including a multi-layered bureaucracy, an unpredictable judicial system and highly regimented labor market.
Other companies have failed miserably in Cuba and were forced to leave or had their imprisoned executives and their property confiscated. And at least one billionaire real estate mogul came not impressed by a recent trip to Cuba. This is what he said:
“I found that there were lots of great opportunities. It was like stepping back in time, “Stephen Ross, president and founder of The Related Companies, told CNBC television. “A government that really wants change, business really wants, and really want to see growth, and it actually has none of that feeling at all is needed.”
Those who have succeeded offer simple advice: be flexible and listen to Cuban officials, because they will say exactly what they want. Cuba’s communist government first opened to international companies in the 1990s amid the economic crisis caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main ally and benefactor.
The results have been mixed. Cuba says that about 60 percent of foreign investment projects started since the 1990s have had to close. Sometimes he kicks foreign partners, saying it failed to meet its part of the bargain. Sometimes, companies leave the projects on their own.
The business landscape remains low, with only about 100 direct investment projects and a similar number of deals in which foreign managed a Cuban company without an equity stake. From new investments to new envios aereos a cuba are transforming the country.
While US companies expect the normalization of relations and economic reforms underway in Cuba improve the investment climate, experts say the change will be gradual.