Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Cuba-US trade could hurt Jamaica

Published:Friday | December 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM


The thawing of relations between Washington and Havana is good for Americans and also for Cubans. But I have one concern - and it's a selfish one.

The distance between Cuba and the Florida Cays is 90 miles. The distance between Jamaica and Florida is 1013.9 miles. There are 838,000 Cubans in Florida alone. Transportation costs claim a disproportionate chunk of the cost of doing business these days. What would you do if you were a US businessman, mindful of your bottom line, and you had to choose between buying a product from Jamaica - 11 times the distance of Cuba?

Tourism is booming there and the visitors claim that they feel very safe. Many of the people are bilingual. There was a time when Cuba provided 33 per cent of the sugar required in the US. They produce good rum. Their cigars are among the best in the world, and only one country plants more tobacco than Cuba.

This Obama decision is cause for celebration, especially if he manages to convince Congress to end the embargo. But we need to sober up and examine the consequences for us. By the time the IMF is done with us, we will be walking on our elbows and in absolutely no condition to compete. Cuba is a strong country.