US-Cuban embargo nears end as Pfizer and Regeneron make trade trip

By Fiona BARRY

- Last updated on GMT

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo pictured before his historic visit to Cuba.
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo pictured before his historic visit to Cuba.

Related tags United states President of the united states

Pfizer and Regeneron are in Cuba this week, scouting the country for business opportunities.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the island state with a delegation of around 18 US business leaders, including Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer and a Pfizer executive.

Representatives from JetBlue, Mastercard, dairy companies Chobani and Cayuga Milk Ingredients, and software business Infor were also part of the two-day whirlwind tour.

Barack Obama and US President Raúl Castro, who succeeded his brother Fidel in 2008, agreed in December to soften the long-standing trade and travel embargo between their countries.

The US will be allowed to do business with Cuban individuals and companies, and to open accounts in Cuban banks.

Further talks in January this year discussed lifting the embargo altogether, but repeal requires assent from the US Republican-controlled Congress.

For now, the Federal Government can grant licences to US businesses exempting them from the embargo.

Obama told Congress last week he also intends to remove Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

'POTUS can grant licence'

Governor Cuomo, a Democrat, had lunch with Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, the Cuban Minister of Trade and Foreign Investments. He told the press he had no plans to meet President Castro.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be part of this moment in history,​”​ Cuomo told reporters in Cuba.

We had a quick discussion at lunch with the minister of foreign trade about what business opportunities we could develop now.

The President of the United States has the ability to grant licences to businesses, so businesses can start developing now in select areas, and those are areas we want to pursue.”

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