United States-Cuba Technology Transfer

Historically, prior to the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the United States of America and Cuba participated in many mutually beneficial ventures in the areas of medicine, public health, science, arts, etc. as well as being allies against Germany and other aggressors in World War II.    Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln have been commemorated on Cuban stamps.  The bust of Abraham Lincoln can be seen near the Capitolio and Indian Fountain in Habana.  The  historical cooperation between the USA and Cuba in the healthcare may be seen at the Cuba AIDS Project website.

For a number of years after the 1959 revolution, Cuba shifted its national priorities internally to healthcare, education, public health, agricultural reform and, in the process, became isolated from global markets except in its relationship with the USSR.  Since the dissolution of the USSR and the Papal visit by Pope John Paul II, Cuba has increasingly opened itself to the World.  Cuba is rapidly expanding trade with Communist countries (Vietnam, China, North Korea), theocratic countries (Iran, Afghanistan), and capitalist countries (Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Japan, etc.).

Individuals and companies in the United States have placed Cuba in their international sights for expanding bidirectional commerce and technology transfer (both vertical and horizontal technology transfer)  whenever feasible and permitted by ever changing USA laws, rules and regulations regarding Cuba.  Individuals and state controlled companies in Cuba have embraced technology as a means to increase its range of products and services "made in Cuba".  The recent change in Cuban government policies involving technology has prompted Cuba to reach out internationally for joint ventures in biotechnology, information technology, energy, mining, etc. for economic growth or productivity gains.

Current USA laws prevent almost all technology transfer between the USA and Cuba.  Interestingly, Cuba cooperates with the USA in areas of meteorology (hurricanes), oceanography and, in one instance, indirectly in biotechnology:  the Neisseria meningitidis Type B vaccine. ( see Cuba Biotechnology Company ® )  All "recipients" of technology transfer into Cuba are entities owned or controlled by the socialist government of Cuba whereas technology transfer "donors" from supplier nations may be public or private companies or individuals.  Complicating global technology transfer and intellectual property rights between the World and Cuba is the ongoing controversies between Cuba, the European Union and the USA regarding trademarks such as Havana Club Rum and well known cigar brands as well as what is the intended use or objectives of the technology transferred into Cuba from the global community which has expressed concerns on human rights issues in Cuba.

Cuba has taken an aggressive position trivializing patents and trademarks in areas of medicine, especially pharmaceuticals for HIV/AIDS. This "renegade" posturing by the Cuban government causes some entities  to be puzzled over joint ventures or licensing of technology to Cuba while others fear technology sold to Cuba may be copied and sold elsewhere without royalties or other fees for proprietary knowledge or products.  Additionally, there is political risk in dealing with Cuba heralded by concerns of what will happen in Cuba when current Cuban leaders (esp. Fidel and Raul Castro) die.

For now, the best way USA companies can begin the process of future technology transfer to Cuba is to gather information relevant to them from any available resource.  Information from Cuba, if filtered through the Government of Cuba, may be unreliable and need to be verified from other sources if possible.  People to people contacts build trust and when permitted, these personal interactions should be pursued.

The Cuban Constitution embraces socialism and the judicial system in Cuba does not operate independently of the socialist government.  When negotiations for technology transfer are allowed by USA law, companies should have already apprised themselves of the legal environment within Cuba regarding contract law, licensing, joint ventures and remedies if disagreements occur.  The decision making process in Cuba is very different than the decision making process in the USA and USA companies must understand the Cuban decision making process prior to any negotiations of technology transfer from the USA to Cuba or vice versa.

Non-USA domiciled individuals and companies (many from capitalist countries which are trading with Cuba), not restrained by USA laws, are, after receiving Government of Cuba approval, consulting, starting up, transferring, training and managing ongoing technology tranfer and other ventures with Cuba for mutually beneficial  gain and, hopefully, profits....profits , if any, for the Cuban government go into the Cuban  government treasury (state controlled capitalism) whereas any profits for the foreign joint venture partners (public or private) are repatriated when possible.

The hurdles of technology transfer and joint ventures with Cuba are being jumped by non-USA entities to date.  How these activities play out has major implications for USA individuals and companies interested in Cuban commerce.  As USA laws favor more technology transfer and trade with Cuba, this webpage will be updated.

Havana Bay Company ®

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