Cuban foreign trade minister kicks off working visit to Washington
Cuban foreign trade and investment minister Rodrigo Malmierca has begun a four-day working visit to the United States, which includes meetings with local officials, public and private entrepreneurs.
This is only the second Cuban government minister to visit the US in over 50 years, after foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez visited to open the Cuban embassy in Washington last year following the historic announcement on December 17, 2014, by presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama to re-establish diplomatic relations.
Malmierca is due to meet with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and both will consider the scope of executive measures adopted by Obama to modify aspects of the over-50-year economic, commercial and financial embargo of Cuba.
Pritzker visited Cuba last October for the first bilateral meeting on the potential and limitations of the measures aimed at easing the web of norms and policies in force against the Caribbean nation, which make up the US embargo law.
Malmierca will also meet with members of the US Chamber of Commerce, an entity that set up the US-Cuba Business Council to boost bilateral trade exchange and lift barriers on commerce. He will meet with the Chamber’s leader Carlos Gutierrez, according to the agenda.
The visit by the Cuban minister and the changes of US regulations raise unprecedented opportunities for the two countries, particularly in terms of travel and the development of small companies, said Gutierrez, who was Secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush between 2005 and 2009.
The Cuban minister arrived in Washington on Sunday heading a delegation that includes members of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, the foreign ministry, the Central Bank of Cuba and entrepreneurs. They were welcomed at Dulles International Airport by Cuban ambassador to Washington Jose Cabañas.
Cuba and the US have advanced bilateral actions in the areas of postal mail, civil aviation, the fight on drug trafficking, scientific cooperation and the environment.
However, Cuba insists that in order to have normal bilateral relations Washington must lift the US embargo, return the Guantanamo naval base and stop subversive radio and TV broadcasts to the island.