April 22, 2015
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo's Trade Mission to Cuba Helps Connect New York Businesses to New Opportunities

TOP Governor Cuomo's Trade Mission to Cuba...

Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Infor, Announce Agreements For New Business Partnerships in Cuba

Governor Meets With Cuba's First Vice President, Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, and Other Officials To Discuss New Economic Opportunities Between New York And Cuba

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo returned Tuesday evening from a two-day trade mission to Cuba where more than a dozen New York industry leaders worked together with Cuban officials to find ways to start new economic partnerships as the U.S. and Cuba begin the process of normalizing relations.

Roswell Park Cancer Center signs agreement with Cuba's Center for Molecular Immunology (CIM) to develop a lung cancer vaccine with a clinical trial in the United States

During the trip, Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo signed an agreement with Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology (CIM) to develop a unique lung cancer vaccine with a clinical trial in the United States. The trade mission facilitated face-to-face connections and enabled the two parties to reach an agreement on the final details. The agreement will enable testing of a CMI-developed vaccine for lung cancer, which is already in use in Cuba, in an early-phase clinical trial at Roswell Park. The vaccine has already shown promise in controlling lung cancer, and the teams hope it may have value in both preventing and treating lung cancer and possibly other cancers. The agreement with the CIM paves the way for Roswell Park to move forward on its application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to offer the vaccine in a clinical trial in the U.S.

Roswell Chief Executive Officer Candace Johnson said in a press conference on Tuesday regarding this announcement: "Thank you very much it is my esteemed pleasure to be here with everyone today, I thank the governor for this wonderful opportunity in this trade mission. I thank the hospitality of all my Cuban friends and I am very excited to announce today we signed an agreement between Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo New York and the Center of Molecular Immunology in Havana. This agreement establishes collaboration between our two institutions to develop a cancer vaccine in lung cancer. This vaccine was developed by prestigious scientists from the Center of Molecular Immunology and we are very excited to take this to the United States to treat patients. This would not have happened without this trade mission which provided a face to face finalization of the agreement. This will enable us to go back to New York and get started in this exciting clinical trial. Thank You very much, I would like now to introduce Charles Phillips. He is the CEO of infor and he is going to tell us about his exciting day and a half."

Audio of these remarks is available here.

This afternoon, ESD President Howard Zemsky and Roswell CEO Candace Johnson will hold a press conference in Buffalo discussing this agreement.

Infor Global Solutions Inc. announces agreement to sell healthcare management software in Cuba

During the trip, Infor worked together with Cuban counterparts to reach an agreement to provide software and training in Cuba.

Infor CEO Charles Phillips said in a press conference on Tuesday regarding this announcement: "First of all I want to thank the Governor; this was an exciting two days of meetings. We are a technology company in the United States and one of our main focuses is healthcare. Through this trip we were able to identify a partner company here in Cuba who will resell some of our software. We were surprised and impressed with the level of technology and expertise they had in healthcare technology. We reached an agreement last night over dinner, rice and beans, in addition we will provide our software to the local Cuban university here and begin to train students as future leaders in technology. The third benefit is that the companies we are working with have operations in other latin American countries and we will partner with them in countries which we are not currently selling yet. These are great contacts that would have taken us years to find without this trip. So again, thank you governor for making this happen."

Audio of these remarks is available here.

SUNY and University of Havana work toward new future together, SUNY to establish a Cuba lecture series

During the trade mission, State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and José F. Buscaglia-Salgado, Director of Caribbean, Latin American and Latino Studies at the University at Buffalo, met with officials at the University of Havana to discuss initiatives to expand scholarly and cultural exchanges between New York State and Cuba. Since 1997, the State University of New York has had important and enriching partnerships and educational exchange programs in Cuba. SUNY campuses at Albany, Buffalo, New Paltz, Oswego, and Old Westbury have had study abroad programs in Cuba.

As a result of the trip, the University of Havana shared a framework for a memorandum of understanding between SUNY and the University, which will:

  • Enable SUNY to increase study abroad programs to Cuba.
  • Increase scholarly exchanges between SUNY and the University of Havana.
  • Provide study abroad students with internship and other applied learning opportunities as New York companies seek a presence in Cuba.

SUNY hopes to solidify this memorandum of understanding with the University of Havana and use it as a framework for a future partnership with the Cuban Ministry of Higher Education and expand opportunities to the other institutions of higher education in Cuba.

In addition, Chancellor Zimpher announced that SUNY will establish a Cuba Lecture Series this fall to bring greater awareness of Cuba to New Yorkers and enhance the cultural competency of students participating in study abroad programs.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said: “As New York reestablishes its relationship with our southern neighbor, it is only fitting that institutions of higher education be at the forefront of promoting new collaborations. By sending more students abroad, we are better preparing our graduates to succeed in the global economy. We look forward to expanding exchanges of students and faculty, and enabling all of our campuses to build meaningful partnerships with institutions of higher education in Cuba."

New York State companies enjoyed productive bilateral meetings with Cuban industry leaders

In addition to the announcements that Roswell Park and Infor made during the trip, New York State’s business leaders enjoyed productive bilateral meetings with Cuban officials and industry leaders. During the trade mission, Cayuga Milk Ingredients, Chobani, MasterCard, JetBlue, Plattsburgh International Airport, New York Genome Center, Pfizer, and Regeneron all explored future opportunities with their respective Cuban counterparts.

A recap of the trip including video, audio and photos, is available below:

MONDAY

On Monday, April 20th the Governor and the New York State Trade Delegation left John F. Kennedy International Airport. Upon arriving at José Martí Airport, the Governor was greeted by Josefina Vidal, director general of the U.S. division at Cuba's Foreign Ministry.

Video and photos from Monday’s events are available here.

Working Lunch hosted by Cuban Minister of Trade and Foreign Investments Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz

Upon arrival in Cuba, Governor Cuomo participated in a working lunch hosted by Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, the Cuban Minister of Trade and Foreign Investments, and attended by other New York and Cuban officials.

New York officials present included Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Jeff Klein, ESD Commissioner Howard Zemsky, and special counselor Rick Cotton.

Cuban officials present included Minister Rodrigo Malmierca; Marilú de la Luz B'Hamel, Director of the North American Department, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment; Gustavo Machin, Deputy Chief, North American Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba; Warnel Lores, Official, North American Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba; Ana Teresa Igarza, Director of the Office of Mariel Special Development Zone. The lunch was held at Salon Baracoa at the Hotel Nacional in Havana.

The discussion at the lunch centered on the new economic opportunities that will become available to New York and to Cuba as the process of normalizing diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba continues to move forward.

The Governor thanked Minister Malmierca Díaz and the other officials present for hosting the trade session, and explained how New York is looking forward to the new economic opportunities and trade partnership with Cuba. The Governor discussed how his administration has worked to make New York’s economy more competitive around the globe, and how this trade mission is an important step in that effort.

The Governor gave a brief overview of the industry leaders traveling as part of the delegation from New York State, and described how the delegation included top executives of major industry leading American enterprises and organizations. The Governor said the composition of the delegation represents the seriousness in which New York is viewing this new economic opportunity. The Governor told the Cuban delegation that New York State and the industry representatives traveling from New York look forward to building productive and fruitful relationships over the course of the trip.

The Governor told Minister Malmierca Díaz he looked forward to continued communication in the future that could be mutually beneficial to the people of Cuba and New York.

Roundtable with New York business leaders and Cuban counterparts

In the afternoon, the Governor delivered remarks at the opening of a business roundtable meeting between New York and Cuban industry leaders representing a variety of sectors. Mary Lou B'Hamel, North America Director for the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Trade, welcomed the Governor and delegation to Cuba. A transcript of a portion of the Governor's remarks is as follows:

Governor Cuomo: "I want to thank the minister for my first Cuban cigar which I intend to enjoy right after this as we become much more aggressive in going out and seeking business opportunities for New York, what we call global New York which is where we look for international business opportunities for the state of New York. This is our first mission in that regard and the first mission, we wanted to come here to Cuba, and we are. Like the people in Cuba, the people in New York and the United States are very excited about the courage that your president, Raul Castro, has shown and the leadership that he has shown and likewise the leadership of President Barack Obama. We believe this is going to be a dramatic change and that it is going to the benefit the people of Cuba and the people of the United States. Longer term, we are looking forward to the embargo, as we call it in the United States, being lifted, legally, by congress so we can have normalization of relations. I personally agree with what President Obama has done and the simple premise that isolation has not worked. We’ve had 50 years of isolation and it has not worked. Engagement and full relationships are the best ways to have dialogue on the issues we agree with and the issues that we disagree about."

Visit with Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino

After the business roundtable meeting, Governor Cuomo met with Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino. The Governor told the Cardinal about the New York Trade Delegation's trip to Cuba and thanked the Cardinal for his work to grow the Catholic Church.

Walking tour of downtown Havana and meeting with SUNY Students

Following the meeting with the Cardinal, the Governor participated in a walking tour of Old Havana, which included a viewing of an antique car and a brief meeting in an outdoor cafe with students from the State University of New York system who are currently studying in Cuba as part of exchange programs. This informal meeting was also attended by other members of the NYS Trade Mission, including SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.

TUESDAY

On Tuesday, April 21st the Governor had coffee in the morning with Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Chief of Mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba. The Governor had resided Monday night at the Ambassador's residence. Later Tuesday morning, the Governor toured the Port of Mariel, met separately with Cuban First Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel, and held a departure press conference.

Video and photos from Tuesday’s events are available here.

Tour of Port of Mariel

On Tuesday morning, Governor Cuomo and members of the NYS Trade Mission traveled the Port of Mariel for a tour and briefing of the Port’s facilities, history and economic significance. The tour was led by Port Director Charles Baker who explained to the delegation that after a recent nearly $1 billion upgrade – including a new container terminal and the establishment of a free trade zone – Cubans hope the Port becomes a vibrant part of the nation's future economic potential. Director Baker explained to the delegation that the current trade embargo has hurt the operations of the Port as ships that dock in Cuba are not allowed by law from entering the United State for six months.

Meeting with Cuban First Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel

On Tuesday morning, Governor Cuomo met with Cuban First Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel as part of the NYS Trade Mission to Cuba.

The Governor thanked the Vice President for meeting with him as New York works to build and strengthen economic ties with Cuba and the U.S. continues the process of normalizing diplomatic relations. The Governor shared with the Vice President how he hoped this trip would be beneficial to the developing relationship between New York and Cuba and their respective populations.

The Governor expressed how he agreed with the U.S. government’s new approach that recognized that isolation has failed and the many positive opportunities that can come with new engagement. Regarding human rights, the Governor expressed that this is an issue that is very important to the people of the United States and New York, and that he believed the best way to work through these issues is through engagement rather than isolation.

Having attended the opening of the NYS Trade Mission’s business roundtable meetings, where industry leaders from New York held discussions with their Cuban counterparts about opportunities for economic partnership, the Governor highlighted the many possibilities for a strong relationship between New York and Cuba in fields such as health care, bio-technology, agriculture, finance, information technology, and tourism.

Departure Press Conference at José Martí Airport

Following the meeting with the Vice President, the Governor traveled to José Martí airport for a farewell press conference. A transcript of his opening remarks is below:

Governor Cuomo: "A special thank you to Vice President Díaz-Canel for his hospitality and kindness. There is no doubt that change is in the air and that this is a very exciting time in Cuba, it was our pleasure to be here at this time. I applaud the courage and leadership of your president Raul Castro and Vice President Díaz-Canel. I am also proud of the President of the United States, President Barack Obama for his leadership in working to normalize relationship.

"After this trip, it affirms that feeling I had coming down that normalization of relations between our respective countries is the exact right direction to go. The isolation of the past has not been a productive and developing a full relationship with full diplomatic relations, with business relations, cultural relations, social relations, will allow us to deal with the issues where we agree that are easy. Also on issue where we have disagreements or different perspectives; like in the area of human rights. The business people who we brought with us had a very busy day and a half but also a very productive day and a half. There is doubt that developing those mutual business relationships that assist Cuba and also work for the companies is a big, big part of moving forward. You will hear next from Howard Zemsky who is in charge of economic development for the State of New York who will update you on the business discussions.

"New York has always had a special connection with Cuba and Cuba has always had special place in the heart of New Yorkers. We stand today in the Airport named for José Martí. When José Martí was threatened, where did he go? He went to New York and he was welcomed in New York and he thrived in New York and we have a statue in the middle of New York City to José Martí. So it is not about starting a friendship, we have had a friendship that went on for decades, it is about rekindling a friendship. That is what we have done on this trip. I look forward to returning soon, hopefully for longer than a day and a half. Hopefully next time a little less work and a little more sleep and I speak for myself and my business colleagues and my government colleagues, speaker of the New York State Assembly Carl Heastie, Co-leader of the New York State Senate Senator Jeff Klein, Minority leader of the Senate Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, when I say New York looks forward to the day when we welcome all Cubans with open arms. Muchas Gracias."

Audio of these remarks is available here.

Following the Governor's remarks, Roswell Chief Executive Officer Candace Johnson made an announcement regarding new business opportunities in Cuba. Her remarks are as follows:

Roswell Chief Executive Officer Candace Johnson: "Thank you very much it is my esteemed pleasure to be here with everyone today, I thank the governor for this wonderful opportunity in this trade mission. I thank the hospitality of all my Cuban friends and I am very excited to announce today we signed an agreement between Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo New York and the Center of Molecular Immunology in Havana. This agreement establishes collaboration between our two institutions to develop a cancer vaccine in lung cancer. This vaccine was developed by prestigious scientists from the Center of Molecular Immunology and we are very excited to take this to the United States to treat patients. This would not have happened without this trade mission which provided a face to face finalization of the agreement. This will enable us to go back to New York and get started in this exciting clinical trial. Thank you very much, I would like now to introduce Charles Phillips. He is the CEO of infor and he is going to tell us about his exciting day and a half. "

Audio of these remarks is available here.

Infor CEO Charles Phillips then made another announcement about new business opportunities in Cuba. His remarks are below:

Infor CEO Charles Phillips: "First of all I want to thank the Governor; this was an exciting two days of meetings. We are a technology company in the United States and one of our main focuses is healthcare. Through this trip we were able to identify a partner company here in Cuba who will resell some of our software. We were surprised and impressed with the level of technology and expertise they had in healthcare technology. We reached an agreement last night over dinner, rice and beans, in addition we will provide our software to the local Cuban university here and begin to train students as future leaders in technology. The third benefit is that the companies we are working with have operations in other Latin American countries and we will partner with them in countries which we are not currently selling yet. These are great contacts that would have taken us years to find without this trip. So again, thank you governor for making this happen."

Audio of these remarks is available here.

Following the press conference, the delegation then departed for New York City via a JetBlue aircraft, landing in New York City JFK airport shortly after 5pm. 

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office

NYC Press Office:  212.681.4640

Albany Press Office:  518.474.8418