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  • Cruise ship tourists prepare to ride in a vintage car in Havana, Cuba, June 5, 2019.

    Cruise ship tourists prepare to ride in a vintage car in Havana, Cuba, June 5, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 June 2019

The two-day Cuba Initiative enables Cuban and U.K. businesses to negotiate mutual business deals.

Some 18 businesses from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland are attending the Cuba Initiative (IC) Monday and Tuesday in Havana in order to explore new, mutual investments and business deals between the nations.

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"Cuba continues to take steps to facilitate and support the establishment of foreign investors who, in addition to providing capital, allow us access to advanced technologies and management methods," Cuban Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca said at Monday's opening speeches Monday.

The minister added that the Cuban government will present proposals to the British business leaders and the 28 other representative on hand in areas such as tourism, agriculture, financial services, oil and gas.

At the initiative opening, IC co-chair, Lord David Triesman criticized the United States government for enacting Titles III and IV of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act (HBA) that has allowed several international entities to sue businesses in Cuba from U.S. courts.

"We do not intend to allow international litigation without reacting to them. We must understand the priorities that Cuba has," Triesman said and added that "we must look for new methods and ways for bilateral business." 

Title III of the HBA allows U.S. citizens and Cuban-Americans to file lawsuits against foreign companies using assets and land nationalized by the Cuban government and Title IV prohibits entry into U.S territory people being sued under Title III.

These measures, which add to the 60-year economic blockade on the island by the U.S., are not stopping the U.K. and Northern Ireland companies from investing in tourism and renewable energy projects in Cuba. British solar power company, Hive Energy, says it will invest US$59 million in a solar park at the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone (ZEDM), the largest business center in Cuba.

The Cuba Initiative was created as an intergovernmental working group in 1995 and the forum relaunch was proposed by Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel during his U.K. visit in November 2018, and ratified during Prince Charles's visit to Cuban last March.

Lord Triesman, who was welcomed by Cuban Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas, has scheduled meetings with high-level Cuban officials, including representatives from the ministries of foreign trade, energy and mines, transport, agriculture, tourism, science, and urban planning.

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