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U.S. Chamber’s Donohue to Lead Delegation to Cuba

Monday, May 19, 2014 - 1:15pm

WASHINGTON, D.C.-- U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue will lead an executive delegation to Cuba next week to develop a better understanding of the country's current economic environment and the state of its private sector.

"Since I was last in Cuba 15 years ago, a reform program has reportedly taken 600,000 workers from government payrolls and allowed the number of self-employed entrepreneurs in the country to triple to more than 450,000," Donohue said. "This trip will provide us with a first-hand look at changes in Cuba's economic policies and whether or not they are affecting the ability to do business there."

Steve Van Andel, chairman of the U.S. Chamber's Board of Directors and of Alticor Corporation, and Marcel Smits, CFO of the Cargill Corporation, will travel with Donohue as part of the Chamber delegation. While in Havana, delegation members will meet with a variety of entrepreneurs, private cooperatives, government officials, academics, and religious leaders, among others. Donohue will also speak to students at the University of Havana.

"We want to learn more about these reforms, determine if they have brought about real and lasting changes, and find ways to encourage Cuba's budding private sector," Donohue continued. "We will report our findings to lawmakers, our members, and the American business community."

The trip is licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department, which regulates travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. Its International Affairs division includes more than 50 regional and policy experts and 25 country- and region-specific business councils and initiatives. The U.S. Chamber also works closely with 116 American Chambers of Commerce abroad, including 25 in the Asia Pacific region.