Cuba: Doing business & staying in touch

Doing business in Cuba

As Cuba's government is in the process of reforming its economy, international business in Cuba is steadily growing. However, new companies should expect to work through a lot of bureaucracy while doing business in the country. Cubans are proud of their communist government and eager to do business with foreigners, but the political system and local protocols can make it hard for foreign businesses to operate.

When attending meetings in Cuba, it is expected that you should arrive on time, although the Cuban hosts may be late. This is standard Cuban practice, so don't be offended. Meeting are often held over lunch and can last around two hours.

Business attire in Cuba is usually professional casual, with men usually wearing suit trousers and a long-sleeved shirt without a tie or jacket. Women may wear a dress or slacks. Courtesy is expected, and any gift you bring should not be lavish. A small token form your home country will be appropriate.

Office hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1200 and 1300-1700.

Economy

Although the socialist government is slowly transforming the economy and embracing entrepreneurship, Cuba is still facing tough US sanctions, leading to fuel, food and medicine shortages.

International tourists continue to arrive in Cuba, despite the travel blockade from the US. Visitors are lured by the country's immaculate beaches and verdant hills, along with towns and cities wrapped in defiantly revolutionary politics. Tourism is a key source of hard currency, generating about US$3 billion a year. Over the years, the government has also expressed interest to collaborate with foreign firms to create facilities supporting the tourism sector, but progress remains slow.

GDP

100 billion (2018).

Main exports

Sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, citrus, coffee and medical technology.

Main imports

Food, petroleum, chemicals, machinery and equipment.

Main trading partners

Venezuela, China, Canada, the Netherlands and Spain.

Keeping in Touch in Cuba

Telephone

Public phones are still in use in Cuba. You can buy a phone card from ETECSA, the telecommunication company in Cuba, to use on public phones. Note that international calls from Cuba are expensive. To make an international call, you must dial 119, then the country code, area code (if applicable) and the phone number.

Mobile phone

Roaming agreements exist with only a few international mobile phone companies. The mobile network Cubacel is administered by ETECSA (www.etecsa.cu).

Internet

Wi-Fi is available in some hotels. If your hotel doesn't provide one, you can buy a Wi-Fi card from any of the ETECSA offices.

Post

Correos de Cuba post offices are located throughout the country.

Post office hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1500. Many luxury hotels sell stamps and can help you post letters.

Media

The media is tightly controlled by the Cuban government.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.