Today Hanoi, tomorrow Havana?
By Pip Hinman
According to the February 17 San Francisco Chronicle, many US businesses are keen to open trade relations with Havana. The dollars-and-cents argument is gaining some momentum.
In early February, Democrat representative Charles Rangel presented his Free Trade with Cuba Act saying, "It makes no sense to deal with China and now Vietnam and argue against trade with Cuba, a country where we have lost not a single life and which has no worse a [human rights] record than China or Vietnam".
In San Francisco on February 10, a group of business owners and investors announced the formation of the Association for Free Trade with Cuba.
A 1992 study by two researchers at John Hopkins University concluded that lifting the embargo could generate US$2 billion in annual trade. According to a State Department report, the 1992 ban on Cuba trade by US subsidiaries (the Torricelli Bill) reduced US sales from US$718 million in 1991 to US$1.6 million in 1993. In November, the US chamber of Commerce declared that the principal beneficiaries of the embargo are "our foreign competitors".