Trade between the United States and Cuba continues to rise, despite the announcement by President Donald Trump back in June when he promised in Miami to tighten his policy toward the island.
“Cuba’s food purchases in the United States have declined but a wide sector has opened up from President Obama’s flexibilization measures that have allowed for increased flights, telecommunications, tourism and remittances,” Explains Emilio Morales, director of The Havana Consulting Group (THCG).
The statistics provided by THCG reveal that there were 8,287 flights in the first half of 2017, almost 180% more compared to the same period of the previous year. “This figure is 3.45 times greater than the one reached in January 2014, the year in which the thaw began in relations between Washington and Havana,” says the expert.
On August 31, 2016, with its first flight from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara, JetBlue began the normalization of air relations between both countries. Although flights to the island are barely 51% of capacity.
Morales believes that the main airlines will remain “betting on the future.”
For some months now, some airlines like Silver Airways, Spirit Airlines and Frontier have suspended or reduced their trips to the Island. The Havana Consulting Group believes that the companies “made mistakes in their market projections and could not withstand the bigger competitors “.
“The magnitude of trade between the two nations should not only be measured by the traditional import of food products that the Cuban government has sometimes used to lobby anti-embargo,” explains the expert.
In times of tension between the two countries, the Cuban government stopped importing food, especially chicken and rice, and bought it in other markets at higher prices.
The US producers then pressured this administration to relax the policy toward the Island.
According to John S. Kavulich, president of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, exports of food and agricultural products from the United States to Cuba in June 2017 amounted to $ 24.6 million, compared with $ 11.2 million the previous month and $ 9.5 million from Cuba acquired from June 2015.
The National Bureau of Statistics and Information says that Cuba imported from the United States $ 261.7 million in food last year.
For its part, the business of travel to the island was estimated at $ 1.8 billion in the first half of 2016 alone.
“Trump’s measures will NOT affect most of these businesses,” says the expert, but notes that regulations that prevent Americans from visits constitute a “small wall” that has led to a decline in Bookings of the holidays.
Last year, 613,937 people traveled from the United States to Cuba, of them 329,000 Cubans and 284,937 Americans.
According to THCG reports, remittances from the US reached $ 3,444 million in 2016, 2.7 percent more than in 2015.
The increase has mainly contributed to the Cuban migratory wave that in the last five years has meant the arrival of More than 160,000 immigrants to the United States.