Restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba will not automatically make the United States a preferential trade partner, Havana-based news agency Prensa Latina (PL) reported Monday.
"Once diplomatic ties are restored and several trade restrictions lifted, U.S. business owners will enjoy the same treatment offered everyone else in the world who today trades with Cuba," PL said, citing Cuban Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca.
"It's true that we look favorably on them (U.S. entrepreneurs) being able to trade and invest here, when U.S. laws allow it, but that does not imply preferential treatment," Malmierca said in a wide-ranging interview with the Cuban News Agency.
Since the U.S. and Cuba announced in mid-December they would work to normalize ties, American private sector interest in Cuba has stepped up, as evident by the number of delegations that have visited the island since, noted Malmierca.
American entrepreneurs have always had business interests in the Cuban market, he said, and in the future "we hope that they can come without the pressure of the restrictions established by the trade embargo, which not just Cuba, but the U.S. and global business community is asking to be lifted."
While the White House relaxed some restrictions on trade with Cuba in January, those measures have not gone far enough, said the minister.
Malmierca acknowledged that U.S. President Barack Obama cannot single-handedly lift the embargo, which would require congressional approval, but added he does have certain executive powers "beyond the measures approved in January."