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Grace looking to Cuba


Grace looking to Cuba

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LIKE OTHER CORPORATIONS, GraceKennedy, one of the Caribbean’s largest conglomerates, has put Cuba on its corporate radar screen.

This comes as Havana and Washington are inching towards normalising their diplomatic and economic relations.

And while a definite decision has been made to go into Cuba, the Jamaica company, which has its sights set on becoming a global billion dollar enterprise by 2020, has taken the initial step to get its products and services into the Caribbean’s largest Spanish-speaking island.

Don Wehby, the GraceKennedy group chief executive officer, who was in North America recently for the company’s annual series of town hall meetings in New York, Toronto and Miami, told journalists at a media breakfast in Manhattan that the firm had set up a corporate panel to study the possibility of going into Cuba in light of the recent events in the United States and Cuba.

“A decision hasn’t been made but the matter is under consideration,” he said in response to a question on the issue. “The matter of Cuba came up at a recent board meeting but no decision about entry into that market was made.”

Cuba has a population of about 12 million and an economy of almost US$70 billion, compared with Jamaica’s population of less than three million and an economy estimated at US$14 billion.

With GraceKennedy products on the supermarket shelves in almost every Caribbean country including Barbados, as well as in American and Canadian cities with large Caribbean immigrant communities, Wehby said that the company’s reach also included the provision of financial services across the region.

It has a 25-year partnership with Western Union, a major transmitter of remittances from Caribbean and Latin American immigrants to countries across the Western Hemisphere. Wehby described the corporate commercial relationship as being very successful and productive for both companies.