Thursday, December 11, 2008

Business news

After years of cozying up to the Castro regime, there is mounting speculation that relations between a couple of large Canadian multi-nationals and the boys in Havana may not be as smooth as they once were.

According to the specialist magazine Embassy, the financial crisis that has engulfed much of the world in recent months is forcing Canadian companies such as Sherritt International and Pebercan to scale down their operations on the island - and cut back on projected capital spending.

Which is bad news for the Canadians, who have been invested heavily in areas such as nickle production and infrastructure.

But the news is even worse for the regime, which relies heavily on Canadian money and expertise to mine and then sell raw materials.

In any case, negotiations between the Canadian businesses and those always jolly and ever accommodating Castro brothers have been described as "tense", which is a nice, all-round euphemism, don't you think?

“Talks between Canadian business executives and the Cuban government are said to be ‘getting tougher’ and sources did not rule out the possibility that business in the country could be halted altogether should long-term negotiations derail,” the magazine says.

The article reveals that the two Canadian companies are owed a bucketload of money by the Cubans – well over USD500 million.

It also reveals the findings of a recent trade report compiled by the Canadian export authority that describes the current economic situation on the island as a "nightmare scenario".

The report said that a series of “recent external shocks could set economic growth in Cuba back years”, referring to damage wrought by hurricanes Gustav and Ike, a sharp decline in nickel export revenues and the toll the global economic crisis will have on tourism.


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