The Future of Foreign Direct Investment in Cuba

Leading U.S. and Cuban Economists and Scholars Discuss Conditions for Foreign Direct Investment at Conference Held by the Cuba Capacity Building Project and Center for Contract and Economic Organization

New York, June 22, 2015—As leaders in the U.S. and Cuba take steps to normalize relations between the two nations, economists and scholars from both countries gathered at Columbia Law School earlier this month to discuss how Cuba can attract substantial foreign direct investment.

Sponsored by the Law School’s new Cuba Capacity Building Project and the Center for Contract and Economic Organization, the “Workshop on Determinants of Future Foreign Direct Investment in Cuba” was the first of its kind. Economists from the Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy at the University of Havana—Professors Juan Triana Cordoví, Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva, Ricardo Torres Pérez, and Saira Pons Pérez—reported on the current state of the Cuban economy and the country’s foreign direct investment goals.
Workshop participants discussed the foreign direct investment that already exists in Cuba, the country’s new foreign direct investment law, restrictions imposed by the U.S. embargo, and Cuba’s bilateral investment treaties.  Columbia Law School Professors Merritt B. Fox, Victor P. Goldberg, Michael A. Heller, and Curtis J. Milhaupt ’89 participated in the workshop, as did Columbia University Professor Edmund S. Phelps, who won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics, and Columbia Business School Professor Owen Davis.  Other participants were: Hunter College Professor Jonathan Conning, New York University School of Law Professor José E. Alvarez, who shared his expertise on bilateral investment treaties, and University of California, San Diego Professor Richard E. Feinberg, who discussed his research on foreign direct investment in Cuba.
The Cuba Capacity Building Project is an initiative designed to foster the development of the legal institutions necessary for Cuba to transition to a more market-based economy.  It is directed by Adjunct Senior Research Scholar Natalia Delgado, who most recently served as general counsel and member of the five-person executive team at Huron Consulting Group Inc., a leading consulting firm.
The Center for Contract and Economic Organization aims to foster research on contracts, firms, and organizations and to facilitate the exchange of ideas between legal scholars and economists.  It is directed by Columbia Law School Professor Robert E. Scott and Columbia Business School Professor Patrick Bolton.
The workshop is expected to be the first of many future collaborations between Columbia Law School and the University of Havana.