United States Authorizes U.S. Auto Sales In Cuba
More than 60 years after the embargo effectively halted the export of U.S. cars to Cuba, new American-made models may soon re-appear on the streets of Havana, following recent authorizations by the Treasury and Commerce departments. Earlier this month, the Treasury department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) granted a license to a Florida-based company named Fuego Enterprises to sell new and used U.S. automobiles to entrepreneurs and businesses in Cuba’s emerging private sector.
“Fuego Enterprises Inc. has been authorized to import to Cuba vehicles of different brands and sizes, originating directly from the United States,” the company reported last week. The statement, signed by Fuego’s CEO and president, Hugo Cancio, noted that the cars would include hybrids and gas combustion models, and be manufactured between 2018 and 2023 by auto-makers such as GM, Ford, Chevrolet and Tesla.
The company’s web news platform, OnCuba, reported that 30 applications for cars were already being processed. It quoted Cancio as stating that the vehicles would benefit the private sector and facilitate “the improvement and expansion of their business management by owning this type of transportation.”
In July 2021, Cancio’s company became the first Florida-based, Cuban-American-owned business to receive authorization from the Cuban government to operate on the island. At the time, Cancio said Fuego Enterprises would focus on creating a supply chain for food and agricultural products to the private sector.
“We remain interested in other partnerships and joint venture opportunities that support the Cuban people and the good will between Cuba, the United States and everyone around the world,” he stated, according to a release.
In recent months, the Biden administration has stepped up licensing of major, transportation-related equipment to Cuba’s private sector, according to the Economic Eye on Cuba, a newsletter that monitors U.S.-Cuba trade and commerce. Last fall, OFAC granted licenses for the export of electric scooters and motorcycles to Cuba, and in November, authorized a Maryland company, Premier Automotive Export, to sell electric vehicles and chargers to private companies on the island. Last month, a Florida-based company, Apacargo Express, received an OFAC license to export up to $10 million worth of cars, trucks, trailers, tractors and agricultural equipment to Cuba.
Cuba is renowned for its vintage Detroit-manufactured cars—among them the 1950s Chevrolet Bel Airs, Ford Fairlanes, and Dodge Coronets—that continue to traverse the island and have become a major component of the tourist sector. New American car brands are virtually non-existent. The country is currently experiencing major gasoline shortages as Cuba struggles to emerge from an economic crisis.
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