New U.S.-Cuba relations spark competition for Canadian business
As U.S. President Obama thaws relations with Cuba, some Canadians doing business there worry about the impact of competition. But will America's enthusiastic engagement with Cuba really affect Canada's expectations?
U.S. President Barack Obama is the first U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge, 88 years ago, to visit Cuba. Obama is in Cuba to restore diplomatic relations with the country and open up American diplomacy that includes an open door for tourism and business opportunities.
Currently, there are already a few U.S. companies set up inside Cuba including Starwood Hotels, Mastercard, Airbnb and Netflix. But now with the influx of Yankee enterprise taking stock, what will this new policy mean for the successful business relationship Canada has with Cuba, as well as our longstanding political relationship?
5 facts on Cuban-Canadian business relations
Canada and Mexico were the only two countries in the hemisphere to maintain uninterrupted diplomatic relations with Cuba after the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
In 1976, then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau made a visit to Cuba which set the stage for a friendship with President Fidel Castro. In 2000 when Pierre Trudeau died, Castro was one of his pallbearers at the funeral in Montreal.
According to the Cuban Tourist Board, over one million Canadians visit Cuba each year — 40 per cent of all visitors to Cuba come from Canada.
Sherritt International Corporation is the biggest Canadian player in Cuba, with annual revenue of $203 million on assets valued at just over $1 billion, according to its 2015 annual report.
In 2013, Canada was Cuba's fourth-largest trading partner after Venezuela, the European Union and China with nearly $1 billion in two-way trade.
Guests in this segment:
Mark Entwistle, founding partner of Acasta Capital, a boutique merchant bank which does a lot of business in Cuba and formerly Canada's Ambassador to Cuba from 1993 to 1997.
Ricardo Alcolado, Canadian lawyer and investment consultants who specializes in helping foreign investors who want to do business in Cuba.
John Kirk, professor in the department of Spanish and Latin American studies at Dalhousie University.
The Current's Marc Apollonio, Idella Sturino and Kinsey Clarke.