The United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is in Cuba, where she will engage in two days of talks regarding the US embargo over the island nation.
According to the agenda issued here, Pritzker will open tomorrow a meeting between officials of the U.S. departments of Treasury, Commerce and State and representatives of various Cuban ministries and companies.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, left, and Cuban Minister…
Since the historic thaw between the two countries was announced in late 2014, the administration of US President Barack Obama has eased trade restrictions on Cuba twice, in January and then September.
The department head arrived in Havana on Tuesday, marking the second official visit by a USA administrative authority since the beginning of a new phase of cooperation between the United States and Cuba in July.
She started her visit Tuesday with a stop at the Mariel free trade zone outside the capital of Havana.
In remarks to Foreign Trade Minister Rodrigo Malmierca and other officials, Pritzker said the lives of ordinary Cubans would only be improved if Cuban President Raul Castro’s market-oriented reforms were extended.
The high-profile visit came as a multitude of US business and trade groups have visited Cuba over the past year, eager to invest and trade with the country, but wary of the bureaucratic and regulatory difficulties presented by the highly centralized economy.
The moves further erode sanctions in place since the early 1960s, but they do not lift the U.S. economic embargo, which can only be removed by Congress, whose Republican majority remains hostile to the idea.