Small Market, Big Opportunities

Since President Obama’s announcement in December about efforts to improve U.S. relations with Cuba, a number of large U.S. companies are already going into the Cuban market to provide services. Which companies are providing services in Cuba? What can U.S. companies currently trade with Cuba.


In February, the internet movie and television streaming service Netflix announced that it began providing services in Cuba. Just last week, the online home-rental service Airbnb announced that U.S. travelers could start booking lodging in Cuba. Credit card provider MasterCard is also offering services in Cuba. As the Cuban market gradually opens up to U.S. businesses, some challenges and risks still exist. (See ‘Tripping Over Wires’: The Risks of Doing Business in Cuba and What You Should Know About Doing Business in Cuba for more on the opportunities and challenges.)

Nevertheless, Cuba is a small market that presents big opportunities for exporters, even though the U.S. embargo is still in place. U.S. companies are allowed to export the following goods and services to Cuba:

  • Medicine and medical supplies;
  • Food;
  • Agricultural equipment;
  • Building material and tools for private sector use; and
  • Telecommunication services, devices and equipment (click here to review additional policy changes regarding US-Cuba business relations).

Cuba presents an opportunity for U.S. businesses, large and small. However, as with any other market, it is important to take into account the realities of doing business in Cuba.

Sources of information: Office of Foreign Assets ControlUS Department of Commerce

 RECENT NEWS: US and Cuba Hold Highest Level Meeting in Over 50 Years

Check out my other related blog posts documenting US-Cuba trade relations and policy reforms over the last three years:


About Dr. Sarita D. Jackson

is the President and CEO of the Global Research Institute of International Trade, a think-tank/consulting firm that examines trade policies and their impact on domestic businesses. Prior to heading GRIIT, Dr. Jackson was a tenured associate professor of political science in North Carolina and worked as a trade policy consultant for an Arlington-based consulting firm. She has participated in trade policy projects and conducted research on free trade negotiations in Botswana, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Panama. Dr. Jackson has also traveled to Chile and Argentina to study their political systems and economic integration policies.
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