On Thursday evening November 9th, the Israel-Latin America Chamber of Commerce held a special conference on “Doing Business with Cuba.” The event was held in preparation of a business delegation of Israeli firms to Cuba taking place from December 5-7 2017.
Industry and commercial leaders, investors, and journalists attended the various sessions, which were designed to give more information for those poised to enter the Cuban market. Among the speakers were Roberto Spindel, President Israel LATAM Chamber of Commerce; Advocate Jaime Aron (discussing legal issues); Rafi Eitan from the BM Group (providing a case study for successful business in Cuba); Ronen Peleg, GBM (how to work in Cuba, case studies in citrus and real estate), and Alex Averbuch, Ashra (Risk mitigation in Cuba). Following the formal presentations, Gabriel Hayon, CEO of the Israel - Latin America Chamber of Commerce oversaw a Q and A session on the planned delegation, and business in Cuba in general.
During the conference, an emphasis was placed on the key areas for market entry for Israeli firms and investors. Because of rapidly increasing tourism (including medical tourism), infrastructure, especially hospitality housing, is in great demand, with Cuba frequently looking to foreign companies to oversee construction as well as supply of needed materials. These all present opportunities for successful business cooperation. Speakers stressed that this demand could be expected to increase in the near future.
Another point emphasized during the conference was the need to cooperate fully with the Cuban government--the ones commissioning, authorizing, and overseeing any foreign commercial activity in Cuba. Moreover, concerns were raised about how foreign investments and profits might be taxed. Although helpful advice was provided, the best piece of advice was to investigate each particular situation with a lawyer well-versed in both countries’ tax schemes before proceeding.
For those serious about investing, the planned delegation provides the best opportunity to get a better understanding of the market needs and environment on the ground. Planned together with the Israel-Latin America Chamber of Commerce, GBM company, the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, and the Israeli Ministry of Education and Export Institute, the trip will include three full days of site visits and lectures. It will include insights into leading areas of potential economic partnership: agriculture; water; energy; food and alcohol; real estate; pharmaceuticals.
The conference also included an opportunity for those looking to enter the market to network with those who can provide needed skills and experience. This was also facilitated by short networking sessions at the beginning and end of the conference. In addition to investors, business leaders and journalists, those in attendance include Captain Avi Haze’ev, providing on the ground solutions for Israelis traveling to Cuba, and Mikhal Heffer, CEO of Lichi Translations, offering linguistic solutions for Israeli companies.
Gabriel Hayon, CEO
Industry House, 29 Hamered St.
Tel Aviv, 6150202
Tel: +972-3-510 3310/51