On November 10, leaders from the business community, Carlson School Professor Paul Vaaler, and Congressman Tom Emmer discussed how Minnesota businesses can seize new opportunities in Cuba. The event—Global Matters: A conversation on Cuban Travel, Trade, and Investment Prospects for Minnesota Businesses—revealed several insights.

U.S. companies will soon establish trade with Cuba

“Today, it’s no longer a question of if the Cuban embargo will be lifted. It’s a question of when the Cuban embargo will be lifted,” says U.S. Congressman Tom Emmer

Better transparency is crucial

"When we met with dairy producers, it became clear they need access to better technology," says Cargill VP Andrew Loder about a recent visit to Cuba. "We’ve developed some models we think would help them. But we couldn’t even visit a wheat mill to better understand their supply chain. So we need to have better transparency to understand what challenges we might face."

Newcomers must compete with existing businesses

“Immediately we saw physicians in the hospitals trying to get access to therapies that could benefit their patients. If we can help someone, we need to do that," says Medtronic Senior Legal and Compliance Director Rodrigo Medina of the healthcare system in Cuba. "We do have competitors there, and once the embargo is lifted, we will be starting behind them. There are challenges. But they will be overcome by our ultimate goal, which is to help people."

Tourists are lining up to visit

"Our core business of taking people on vacation is off limits. There is a tremendous interest in Cuba that’s growing, but people are not allowed to go to Cuba for tourism. As that grows, there needs to be more access," says Sun country Airlines EVP of Business Development Larry Chestler.

For more resources on international business, check out the Global Matters playlist of videos featuring experts addressing hot topics in global business.