Normalized U.S.-Cuba relations to impact South Florida

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014 at 12:29am.

After more than 50 years, President Obama announced plans Wednesday to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba and broaden business ties after the swap of several jailed spies and the release of an American contractor held in a Havana prison.

South Florida could see substantial economic benefits if the U.S. and Cuba continue to make strides in stabilizing their relationship including many key industries such as banking, travel, shipping, trade, and real estate.

The head of Miami-based construction firm Coastal Construction Group, Tom Murphy, told the Miami Herald the new policy was “a first step,” and he’d like to see the embargo lifted next. Murphy said that could provide new business opportunities for those in Miami’s real estate industry. “I think a lot of good developers and builders would head to Cuba. The best thing we could do is go in and rebuild the place. And while we’re at it, let’s build a couple of casinos,” he told the paper.

The new relationship also means U.S. banks can open correspondent accounts in Cuba. “From an initial take this should be a lift for banks in the South Florida area, in the areas of trade finance and remittances,” David Schwartz, president and chief executive of the Florida International Bankers Association in Miami, told the Herald.

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