US rapprochement with Cuba creating investment window for Canada ambassador

by Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press Posted Mar 30, 2016 1:33 pm MDT Last Updated Mar 31, 2016 at 7:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email U.S. rapprochement with Cuba creating investment window for Canada: ambassador MONTREAL – Cuba’s rapprochement with the United States is creating a window of opportunity for Canadian business to invest in the island country, its ambassador said Wednesday.Ambassador Julio Garmendia Pena said that despite decades of friendly relations between Canada and Cuba, the lengthy U.S. “blockade” has made many Canadian companies reluctant to invest so as not to risk American sanctions.But he said the more than 50-year-old relic of the Cold War will eventually slide into “the dustbin of history.”“When that happens we’d like to see many Canadian investors,” Pena said during a speech to the Montreal Council of Foreign Relations.He said Canada has underinvested in Cuba’s tourism sector even though more than 1.3 million Canadians vacation on the Caribbean’s largest island each year.Currently, Canada is Cuba’s fourth-largest trading partner. Among its biggest investors is Sherritt International (TSX:S), which has extensive oil and power operations there.Pena said Canada has a “moral advantage” over other countries seeking to do business because it has worked with Cuba in difficult times. But he said there is no financial advantage when competing for business against foreign rivals.The communist government is looking to secure billions of dollars in foreign investment in the coming years and hopes to tap into Canada’s expertise in clean energy, agriculture, mining and biotechnology.In addition, the two countries are enhancing sports and cultural ties. Cuba’s national baseball team will visit this summer for about 20 games to be played in Ottawa and several Quebec cities.Pena said the recent state visit to Cuba by U.S. President Barack Obama has fostered unprecedented interest from potential foreign investors.Delegations from Europe and elsewhere have helped to fill Havana hotels while a growing number of American congressmen and senators have visited for a first-hand look.“Cuba is in fashion,” Pena said. “My suggestion is (investors) come today or tomorrow and not to wait until the embargo is over.”Cuba has changed some laws to encourage investment. No taxes are paid on profits earned in the first eight years and are set at 15 per cent in subsequent years. There is also a free transfer of corporate dividends.However, investors must have some level of ownership partnership with Cuban companies, often 50 per cent. The government also vows to preserve its socialist policies and defend its sovereignty and independence.While relations have improved through Obama’s executive actions, normalization can only follow the ending of the embargo by the U.S. Congress and the occupation of the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, said Pena.He said such dramatic change is inevitable although he wouldn’t say how long he thinks it will take.“The genie came out of the bottle and to put it back would be very difficult for anyone in the United States,” he said. “I even think the visit of Obama helped a little bit to make this process irreversible.”The ambassador declined to weigh in on the impact of the U.S. presidential election, saying Cuba hopes to work with whomever is elected this fall.Meanwhile, Cuba hopes to build upon its strong relationship with Canada by enhancing ties with the new Liberal government and rekindling the historic bond that existed between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s father and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.Pena said he hopes state visits will take place soon, although no dates have been confirmed. read more

Gay City worker sues former hedge fund employer for more than £1m

first_imgA gay City worker is suing his former hedge fund employer for more than £1 million over claims he suffered an “unrelenting” campaign of homophobic abuse at work.Paul Newton claimed he was mocked by staff at Balyasny Europe Asset Management as they made limp-wristed hand gestures and told him he should not drive his high-powered Aston Martin.Colleagues also openly made jokes about his sex life, claiming he wanted to have relations with multiple men, and called him “camp” and “effeminate”, treating him like a “curiosity on exhibit”, the 43-year-old alleged. …subjected to unrelenting abuse based on his sexual orientation by his colleaguesWrit Mr Newton, who joined the office in spring 2014, was reportedly fired from his role as an asset manager for poor performance and losses linked to the Brexit vote at the end of June, according to the Evening Standard.He is now suing the firm, which has offices in London, America and Hong Kong, for unfair dismissal as he believes his sacking was the culmination of two-years of abuse.In a writ seen by the paper, Mr Newton described the working environment at the firm as “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive”.He claimed he was “constantly told that he looked like a woman” because he had long hair and said his colleagues “had the unmistakable assumption that he was extremely promiscuous”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Mr Newton, whose barrister is Lawrence Jones, has since suffered depression and anxiety, and used to cry in his office over the abuse, the writ said.The Central London Employment Tribunal confirmed the dates of the hearing but would not confirm any details.The Telegraph has contacted Balyasny Europe Asset Management for comment but has not yet had a reply. In a statement issued to the Standard, the firm said it would “resist the claim vigorously” and affirmed it was “committed, by policy and ethical commitment, to a work-force free from harassment”. It added that the claims were “without merit”. The hearing is expected to take place on March 15 next year.last_img read more