Kavulich pointed to a lack of legal and procedural transparency as a key issue affecting Cuba's business environment, noting that some of the key challenges foreign firms face in Cuba include repatriation of profits, arbitration of conflicts and disputes, and regulations requiring that Cuban personnel be hired through a state-run employment agency.
"On a plate of appetizers, it's not going to be the first appetizer that you select," said Kavulich of Cuba's international investment environment. "There are many countries throughout the world that are far more transparent and have a less hostage-like relationship with cooperating partners."
John McAuliff, executive director of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, a nonprofit organization advocating warmer relations between the U.S. and Cuba, said that a new foreign investment law enacted within an opaque and evolving system like Cuba's could lead to misunderstandings for international investors, and, in some instances, even something potentially as bad as jail time.
"In a transitional situation where not all the rules are clear or not all the laws are clear, people could, through overreach, or greed, or ignorance, get themselves into trouble with local laws," said McAuliff. "There have been serious issues with people cutting corners and getting into trouble with the law, and facing criminal charges in Cuba."
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Robert L. Muse, an attorney who specializes in U.S. laws relating to Cuba, said that in order for new Cuban foreign investment policies to be effective, specificity of terms and clarity of process are key.
"I would encourage Cuba to go very quickly from the general to the highly specific. What are the timelines? What are the approval processes? How are they going to be enforced? Then, move on to specificity of rule-making and regulations," said Muse. "It's not going to be good enough to make broad pronouncements that Cuba is now seeking foreign investment. Some questions are going to have to be pre-emptively answered."
Muse cautioned that international companies considering investment in Cuba should do so with their eyes wide open to the opportunities and risks present in the island's economy and politics.
"This is a country that is opening up after 60 years of dormancy in the investment sectors," said Muse. "You're almost pioneering your way in, but there are risks associated with it."