(24 Apr 2019) The European Union will vigorously defend European companies doing business in Cuba against new Trump administration sanctions in court and before the World Trade Organization, the EU ambassador to Cuba said on Tuesday, rejecting the possibility European business will stop investing on the island.
“I think I have said with great clarity, any country can adopt whatever legislation it wants, and apply the law within its own country, we can criticize it whether we like it or not. What that country cannot do, is impose its legislation on others, and that’s what the so-called Title 3 of the Helms-Burton does, and that is completely contrary to international norms, and is illegal, and is something the European Union has systematically criticized since it was imposed in 1996,” Alberto Navarro said in an interview at the EU Embassy in Havana, adding the EU will contest any sanctions against European businesses operating in Cuba at the WTO and in European courts.
Navarro said the EU has become Cuba’s largest trading partner, with some 2.6 billion euro’s in trade and 2.2 in exports between the EU and Cuba annually with the island, and will defend its interests, rejecting Trump Administration threats to sanction European companies for doing business with the Cuban Government.
The ambassador also said other countries with business interests on the island, like Canada, which has long-term investments in Cuba’s energy and mining sectors, will also oppose the Trump Administration plans to punish companies who do business with the island.
The Trump Administration has tightened sanctions against Cuba, applying Title lll of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which allows US citizens to sue international companies using properties seized after the 1959 Revolution for doing business on the island.
The section of the law has been suspended every 6 months since the Clinton Administration, and was allowed to take effect in April by the Trump Administration, which seeks to punish Cuba for its support of Venezuela and other regional issues.
Navarro said “We are the number one investor in Cuba and obviously have legitimate interests in Cuba and we want to defend them and protect our citizens and our investors,” pledging the EU will mount legal challenges to the US sanctions.
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