Can US businesses invest in Cuba?

The island nation of Cuba is once again at the forefront of everyone’s mind after President Obama made a historic visit to the country last month. Not since President Coolidge visited Cuba in 1928 has an American president stepped foot in the nation, making this a truly significant event. Perhaps the most notable change in U.S.-Cuban relations is the fact that Americans can now visit the country for tourism, and some remittance regulations have been eased. But another question remains: Can American businesses invest in Cuba?

Colourful buildings in Havana.

Colourful buildings in Havana.

The answer is a little trickier than you might think.

Who’s headed south?
The Los Angeles Times reported that many U.S. businesses have sent envoys to Cuba, looking to scope out the market. Success rates have varied. For example, Airbnb already has over 4,000 properties listed on the island, but they’re taking advantage of a special loophole. Because it’s signing management contracts, it’s technically not investing in the country. PayPal is also looking to open up a remittance service, which will take advantage of the recent easing of regulations. And then there’s Jimmy Buffet, who is reportedly looking to bring his chain of restaurants to Cuba.

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