Havana Club twist as Trump hints at Cuba freeze

29th November, 2016 by Kristiane Sherry

The Havana Club trademark battle between Pernod Ricard and Bacardi Limited could be set for a new twist as US president-elect Donald Trump threatens to freeze US-Cuba relations.

Havana-Club

The future of Pernod Ricard’s bid to launch its Cuba-made Havana Club into the US could be cast into doubt following a tweet from Donald Trump

Under the Obama administration, relations between the United States, which enforces an embargo against the island nation, were put on a path to “normalisation”.

The improved relations prompted Pernod Ricard, which owns the international rights to Cuban-made Havana Club outside of the US, to prepare to launch the rum in the market.

Bacardi, which owns the Puerto Rico-made Havana Club rum, is contesting the move on the grounds of trademark ownership.

Following the death of Fidel Castro, the revolutionary who went on to govern Cuba, Trump has threatened to reinstate sanctions on Cuba that had been lifted by Obama.

“If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the US as a whole, I will terminate deal,” Trump tweeted on 28 November.

By re-imposing sanctions, the Trump administration could effectively block the bid to launch Pernod Ricard’s Cuban-made Havana Club in the US market.

“As a global actor of our industry with a very strong footprint in the US, our number one market, we will keep on investing in the [top] global market for wine and spirits in order to support our solid growth as we have been doing for decades,” a spokesperson for the group told The Spirits Business.

“We hope the new US government will continue to build bridges between Cuba and the United States.”

Trump policy on the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has already impacted the spirits industry, with the world’s biggest Tequila maker, Jose Cuervo, delaying a much-feted initial public offering over market volatility fuelled by anti-Mexico campaign pledges.

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