Cuba, officially known as the Republic of Cuba, is comprised of the country, Isla de la Juventud, and minor archipelagos. Its largest city is also the capital city of Havana. The country is the largest Caribbean-island, with an area of just under 110,000 sq.km, and is the second most populous, after Hispaniola, with a population of roughly 11 million.
Cuba is considered part of Latin America. Its customs, culture, and people come from different origins including Spanish, African American, Ciboney, Taino, and its close relation with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, are among the cultures which influence the country. Cuba is ranked eighth in North America under the Human Development Index, and 67th in the world. It also ranks highly in education and healthcare systems in the country.
Cuba is one of the last remaining socialist countries in the world. The Constitution of 1976 defines the country as a socialist republic; it was replaced in 1992 with language indicating the nation is: "guided by the ideas of José Martí and the political and social ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin.” The People’s Supreme Court is the highest authority in the judicial government. The Cuban government has been accused of numerous human rights violations throughout its Communist history including torture, unfair trials, arbitrary imprisonment, and extrajudicial executions.
The nation’s economy is guided under the principle of a substantially-controlled, planned economy. Production in the nation and owned and run by the government, and the state employs a majority of the labor-force. Any firm which wants to hire a Cuban national must pay the Cuban government, which pays the employee in Cuban pesos. The country’s economy is highly driven by the sale of sugar to the US, and rum exports are also a highly profitable industry in the nation. Nearly 5% of the country’s residents fall below the poverty line.
Cuba represents a market with robust long-term growth potential that hinges on what happens with Cuba's government institutions and economic engine going forward, and it is one of the largest potential consumer markets in the Caribbean.
There are many legal and regulatory facets to U.S. policy on Cuba, including:
the long-standing U.S. Trade embargo;
the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992,
the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (commonly known as the Helms-Burton Act),
various rules, regulations and amendments promulgated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC);
and most recently the changes after President Obama’s December 17, 2014 announcement concerning changes to Cuba policy.
With the re-establishment of commercial relations between Cuba and the U.S., there is a need to monitor changes to U.S. policy, new legislation and amendments to existing laws that impact U.S.-Cuba relations.
Legal areas of interest for businesses concerning the Cuba market include:
obtaining U.S. Treasury and Commerce Department licenses;
negotiating with Cuban entities for licensed transactions with U.S. entities;
advising on Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulatory compliance;
analyzing viable claims associated with property that may have been unlawfully confiscated;
learning about permissible activities in various industry sectors covered by existing licenses;
developing market-entry and corporate strategy plans; and
protecting brands, including trademarks and other types of intellectual property.