Bringing Cuba to the market

Held on Tuesday, June 28, 2016

With support from The Cuba Initiative


  • Ambassador Mrs. Teresita Vicente Sotolongo

  • Rodrigo Olivares-Caminal (Queen Mary University of London)

  • Lord Hutton (Cuba Initiative)

  • Andrew Macdonald (Havana Energy Ltd)

  • Stuart Culverhouse (Exotix)


  • Webpage: Cuba Sanctions FAQs (U.S. Department of the Treasury)



What should we be talking about at this round-table?
Email your suggestions for the agenda to Giancarlo Gini

Obama’s opening to Cuba has been one of the more positive developments of his second term. It is only partial and it might be reversed if the Republicans were to win the Presidency in November. But it is important – and not particularly well understood over here.

The issues involved are complex. They include:

- the current status of blockade legislation;
- the extent to which Raúl Castro is serious about economic liberalization;
- the legacy problem of compensation for expropriation of US firms;
- the difficulties of doing business in Cuba; and
- the perennial Latin problem of excess debt.

On the last point, Cuba’s creditors have recently appointed Rodrigo Olivares-Caminal, a professor at QMUL, to coordinate commercial creditors and to liaise with official creditors. We are therefore delighted that he has agreed to talk about what he is trying to achieve.

We are also delighted that the Cuban Ambassador to the UK, HE Teresita de Jesus Vicente Sotolongo, has agreed to explain the political dynamic in Havana that is driving rapprochement with the West.

On top of that, we have three long-term observers of Cuba, who have a personal stake in promoting better relations:

Lord Hutton is Chairman of the Cuba Initiative, an independent bilateral body set up in 1995 to enhance UK-Cuban relations. He is a former Secretary of State for Defence, for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and for Work and Pensions. He also has extensive business interests in construction, life sciences, defence and nuclear power.

Andrew Macdonald is the President of Biopower and the CEO of Havana Energy. He has been working in Cuba for 12 years, latterly in the alternative energy sector. Before that, he was involved in real estate and tourism development.

Stuart Culverhouse is the head of research at Exotix Partners, which he joined in 2006 after ten years in the UK Government Economic Service. He specialises in emerging market sovereign debt restructurings and frontier markets more generally, including Cuba.

When it comes to ‘frontier’ markets, Cuba is in a class of its own – but the obstacles are formidable, and they could get worse as problems in Venezuela impact its willingness to provide cheap oil. Nevertheless, it is worth thinking about Cuba, not just as a problem, but as a real-live business opportunity.