Traditional handcrafted Vehicle registration plates for sale in Cuba

To Cuba or not to Cuba Obama opens small business opportunities

Traditional handcrafted Vehicle registration plates  for sale in Cuba

Traditional handcrafted vehicle registration plates for sale in Cuba

The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (SHCCNJ), in collaboration with The Latino Institute, Inc. and Nicoll Davis & Spinella LLP will present this Thursday February 26th, 2015 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm a frank discussion of the new changes in policy by the Obama administration and the extent of diplomatic relations’ normalization between Cuba and the USA. A qualified panel of experts in the region will also explain the potential trade and business opportunities between both countries, and the future of the U.S. Embargo.

“As the voice of the 70,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in New Jersey, our offices have been overwhelmed with questions about the new Cuba regulations. It is our job then to educate our members and friends on what these new regulations mean to their businesses,” said Carlos Medina, Esq., Chairman of the SHCCNJ.

The Obama Administration made policy changes announcement on December 17, 2014 allowing for new business opportunities with and expanded travel to Cuba by Americans and businesses that are subject to USA Law.

Keynote speaker Marco A Gonzalez, Esq

Keynote speaker Marco A Gonzalez, Esq

Marco A. Gonzalez, Jr., Esq., partner at Nicoll, Davis & Spinella, LLP, will be the keynote speaker at the event. With over 16-year experience representing and counseling clients in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean, Gonzalez has counseled and represented clients on the prohibitions under the Cuban embargo, and licensed trade and travel to Cuba.

“Our firm has also been inundated with questions regarding the new travel and business regulations so we decided to reach out to businesses in the region to explain the extent and possibilities of the new travel conditions,” Gonzalez said.

The expert reminds all business owners that the embargo is still in effect. “However,” he said, “there are little holes that now allow for expanded travel while reducing the licensing procedure red tape.”

According to Gonzalez, with the new changes, the administration has issued general licenses that provide expanded opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba in these 12 categories:

1. Family visits
2. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
3. Journalistic activity
4. Professional research and professional meetings
5. Educational activities
6. Religious activities
7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
8. Support for the Cuban people
9. Humanitarian projects
10. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
12. Certain authorized export transactions

vintage model cars in a souvenir shop in cuba

Vintage model cars in a souvenir shop in Cuba.

“The bottom line is that travelers relying on a general license must ensure that they are satisfying each and every provision of the license to avoid any issues with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Out of the 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba, businesses may focus on a few that may provide new opportunities with the people of Cuba,” Gonzalez said.

He believes it could open great opportunities for small businesses willing to take the time to travel to the island and connect with small independent Cuban entrepreneurs –emprendedores cubanos– who might be willing to establish export-import agreements with US small businesses.

Cuban small entrepreneurs are strapped but with some capital injection from business partners in the continent, they might be able to start producing larger inventories for export to the United States. On the other hand, they might need supplies, machinery and products either produced or manufactured in the United States. (For a list of allowed exports to Cuba visit the Bureau of Industry and Security at the US Department of Commerce.)

Handmade hats for sale on a touristic street market in the beach of Varadero in Cuba

Handmade hats for sale on a touristic street market in the beach of Varadero in Cuba.

“Under the category of Support to the Cuban people, many small businesses can find a way through the regulations to establish permanent trade relations with their Cuban counterparts,” Gonzalez said. “The best way would be to connect with chambers of commerce, professional associations or producers’ cooperatives to establish connections and discuss trade agreements conditions,” he said.

The SHCCNJ invites all its members and business friends to attend and ask questions regarding these new opportunities at the event that will take place on Thursday, February 26th from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at the Bergen Community College – Meadowlands Campus – 1280 Wall Street West Lyndhurst, NJ 07071-3517.

To register for this event or information on the Chamber, you can access or contact Erica Horton at

For additional information on changes in regulation you can see Change in Regulations Allow For New Business Opportunities with and Expanded Travel to Cuba By Americans.

Callejon de Hamel in Havana, Cuba

Callejon de Hamel in Havana, Cuba