Last December 17, 2015, President Barack Obama of the United States and Cuban President Raul Castro decided to normalize the relations between the two countries. Progress was achieved at the diplomatic front but it seemed that the commercial front is lagging behind. If both sides do not achieve any significant economic gains before the end of the Obama presidency, the momentum towards the lifting of embargo and fully normalizing the relationship will be lost.
The surge of excitement among US businesses after December 17 was palpable because there are lots of opportunities in the unexploited market of Cuba. For half a century, trade was forbidden between the two countries. Cuba badly needs the trade and investments coming from US businessmen particularly since the leaders are eager to expand commercial ties. However, only a few deals have been signed.
For example, the case of Home Depot Inc illustrates both opportunities and obstacles. At least 90% of Cubans have their own homes but most are in need of repair. Across the island, you will find dilapidated homes that are badly in need for a new coat of paint. Havana has tried to ease the problem by allowing people to do repairs and painting jobs by themselves. The government of Cuba has provided grants and loans to finance home improvements. In 2015, the increase in new housing units through private contractors has translated into a huge demand for building materials and construction tools, a significant opportunity for Home Depot.
The Obama administration has allowed Home Depot to sell construction materials to private Cuban construction cooperatives, contractors and private home owners but in spite of the opportunity, Home Depot is cautious about entering Cuba. The home improvement firm is waiting for the right environment before it enters the Cuban market but it runs the risk of being left behind by competitors from Canada, China and Europe.
A new coat of paint can do wonders for a home or building. However, to ensure that the paint job will enhance the home’s resale value, it must be provided by professionals. Plastering in Sydney is prepared to provide the services to ensure the best outcome possible.