Caterpillar ready to move into Cuban market once embargo lifted -CEO
By Sarah Marsh
HAVANA May 11 (Reuters) - Caterpillar Inc, the world's largest maker of heavy equipment, is ready to move swiftly into the Cuban market once the U.S. trade embargo is lifted, Chief Executive Doug Oberhelman said on Wednesday after meeting with Cuban ministers in Havana.
The detente between the United States and Cuba has raised hopes that full commercial ties will soon be restored between the former Cold War foes.
Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Illinois, is one of several U.S. companies looking at ways to gain an early foothold in the Communist-ruled island, which had been largely off bounds to U.S. business for more than five decades.
Oberhelman said he had been "warmly received" over the past two days by various ministers on his first trip to Cuba.
"We have talked about a number of projects," he told reporters on the sidelines of an event celebrating a donation by Caterpillar to the foundation that preserves the heritage of U.S. writer Ernest Hemingway in Cuba.
"I think the most interesting one in the near term would be the Mariel harbor ... making an efficient modern harbor that competes with others around the world."
Cuba is staking much of its economic future on the Mariel port, west of Havana, seen as a potential distribution center for the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Caterpillar has already named an official dealer for Cuba, the privately held Puerto Rico company Rimco. Continuación...