US/Cuba Trade Flounders
While the US has a trade embargo with Cuba, some US products can be sold there. There are, however, an assortment of pre-conditions that modify these trade options. On the anti-US side, they include cash up front payments and significant overhead for financial transactions. On the other hand, trade with other nations is discouraged by such regulations as ships which have docked in Cuba cannot dock in a US port for six months.
The US trade embargo on Nicaragua in the 1980s, while short-lived compared to the Cuba embargo, had a similar effect. That is, Nicaragua had to look for other trading partners. While the US remains Nicaragua's number one trading partner, other countries are moving up. These embargos don't just hurt the embargoed country but also US producers.
An article in Fox News Latino talks about the trade with Cuba issues. From the article:
So when a plunging global economy pulled Cuba down with it five years ago, Havana had every incentive to hunt for a better deal from friendly nations where government-run companies offer better terms and often won't complain publicly about rolling over late payments. Even private-sector companies in those countries may be more pliant, counting on guarantees by their governments.
While there is a lot more Cuba-specific meat in the article, this point is why I have brought up this subject. As the US continues to try to be different from others in the region (discussions in the OAS support this assertion) it seems that this is encouraging more and more trade within Latin America and with sources other than the US.
What is being called a world economic meltdown is having less effect on Latin America than in much of the world. While I am not suggesting Latin America try to isolate itself from other regions, it does seem like we have a great opportunity to look at regional markets first. If Latin America can move in the direction of trade self-sufficiency and the cooperation to do so is established within the region itself (Mercosur and ALBA are but examples) rather than externally controlled, all the countries of the region could benefit.
This cooperation is not going to eliminate outside trade but it could help the region, and even the little players such as Nicaragua, be more independent of the economics of the US and Europe. What each individual country needs to produce will require a lot of analysis but, starting with the assumption that producing for use within the region is the first priority could have significant advantages over the typical produce for world export model.