On December 17, 2014, US President Barack Obama announced changes to federal restrictions on travel, remittances, banking, communications and trade between Cuba and the United States. The easing of these limits, along with the subsequent steps taken by the State Department to normalize relations with Cuba, increase the potential opportunities for businesses and individuals.
Drawing on our well-established Latin America practice and our direct experience in Cuba, Hunton & Williams LLP can help clients review and understand these emerging opportunities while taking into account the still-existing limitations on business activity. We advise both US and non-US clients in many key areas of the law relating to Cuba, including the following:
Our lawyers guide clients through the complex regulations related to the export and import of agricultural, consumer and industrial products to and from the United States. We have handled proceedings before the US International Trade Commission (ITC), the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the US Department of Commerce, the US Trade Representative, the Court of International Trade, the Customs Service, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. We also can advise clients in negotiations with Cuban entities for licensed transactions with US entities, including drafting and negotiating trade agreements and procurement of US approval for exports of goods and services. We also regularly advise clients regarding compliance with the embargo and other applicable US regulations including FCPA and AML compliance.
Retail and Consumer Products
Retail and consumer products companies are among those that stand to benefit most from the relaxation of the embargo in Cuba. Our team of more than 100 industry-experienced lawyers represents Fortune 500 and other retailers in the Fortune 500 in virtually every sector, including supermarkets, restaurants, home improvement, media and entertainment, toys and baby products, electronics, apparel and consumer services. Over the past decade, we have advised many of our clients on the effects of the embargo on their strategic initiatives. We continue to advise these clients with respect to opportunities in Cuba.
Energy and Infrastructure
Hunton & Williams has represented energy-sector clients since its founding in 1901. Our lawyers are actively involved in hundreds of energy projects of all types throughout Latin America. We represent governments, developers, contractors, investors and lenders. The policy of general approval with respect to the sale of certain types of environmentally friendly products may present an opportunity for this sector.
Telecommunications companies can take advantage of amendments to the US sanctions regulations, along with the Cuban government’s agreement to loosen internet access restrictions. With some limitations, new entrants into the Cuban market will play a key role in providing internet and telecom services. Members of our Latin America practice have represented numerous telecommunications companies in the region, ranging from some of the largest and best-known national and multinational corporations to industry start-ups. We advise clients on privatizations and acquisitions of telecommunications properties, debt and equity financing, negotiation of interconnection agreements and the establishment of global undersea fiberoptic networks around the Southern Hemisphere, including Cuba-specific transactions.
Finance and Banking
Our Latin America team regularly represents banks in the United States and abroad in commercial lending activities throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. As US and Cuban banks are allowed to maintain correspondent banking relationships for the first time in decades, we can advise US clients on all types of bank transactions, including syndicated loans, trade financings, letters of credit, payable-through accounts and correspondent banking arrangements. From the inbound perspective, we also often advise Latin American and Caribbean banks in their activities in the United States, including their interactions with US regulators and international quasi-governmental organizations.
Market Penetration (Mergers, Acquisitions, Joint Ventures and Distributorships)
Lawyers in our Latin America practice regularly advise clients with respect to all forms of market penetration strategies, including evaluation of business strategies and opportunities and providing guidance on a broad range of issues such as incorporation of subsidiaries under local law, establishment of local operations and formation of joint ventures with local partners. We have an active M&A practice, regularly representing US and European multinational corporations involved in transactions in nearly every country in Central and South America and in key Caribbean jurisdictions. We regularly negotiation and document distributorship and sales representation agreements on behalf of clients, and advise on the risks associated with these and other contracts.
International Law, Arbitration and Dispute Resolution
Our experienced litigators represent clients in domestic and cross-jurisdictional disputes before courts in the United States and abroad, under the leading arbitral regimes, before international tribunals and in international arbitration proceedings across Latin America. Members of our international dispute resolution practice represent and counsel corporate and governmental clients in commercial, trade, joint venture, investment, insurance, licensing, banking, intellectual property, construction and infrastructure matters, and in connection with bilateral trades disputes. We have represented clients in litigation on matters related to Cuba, including issues related to certified claims held under the Cuban Claims Program.
Our insurance-coverage counseling and litigation lawyers at Hunton & Williams have advised clients for decades on changes in insurance law and related industry developments throughout Latin America. We help clients maximize insurance recoveries through insurance program reviews, claims presentation and negotiation, litigation, alternate dispute resolution, trials and appeals. Members of our team have experience with foreign insurers, reinsurance pools and managing general agents, and on issues of international reach, including disputes throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada, and with key insurers on the London market.
About The Latin America Practice
For more than 30 years, lawyers in the Hunton & Williams’ Latin America practice have been actively involved in international business transactions throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean, including Cuba. Our clients range from the world’s largest financial institutions and multinational corporations to local governments and agencies, as well as prominent Latin American families and high-net-worth individuals. Most of our lawyers are fluent in Spanish or Portuguese and understand the intricacies of local business cultures, political processes and the underlying legal framework in the countries in which our clients do business. Our varied intellectual and cultural perspectives, real-world international experience and comprehensive first-hand knowledge of the region are likewise put into service for the benefit our clients.
Based in the firm’s Miami office, our Cuba practice draws upon the worldwide resources of Hunton & Williams. With more than 750 lawyers around the world, supported by technology that integrates our capabilities seamlessly across offices and disciplines, Hunton & Williams provides clients with highly qualified legal and consulting services.