While a candidate and since the election, President-elect Trump has expressed conflicting views about the US sanctions against Cuba and Iran.
He has at times warned that US companies are missing out on opportunities, but, more frequently, he has criticized the recent relaxation of sanctions against both countries. Even prior to the election, since the relaxation of these sanctions, major multinational banks have remained hesitant to support Cuban or Iranian transactions.
This hesitation is by no means limited to US financial institutions. A lack of transparency around how the Cuban and Iranian banking systems operate and a concern about these countries’ adherence to international anti-money laundering and cybersecurity standards have also dampened the level of enthusiasm of the major banks.
The temptation may be great for banks to become even more conservative about Cuba and Iran in the face of uncertainty about whether the Trump administration or the US Congress may tighten US sanctions. However, banks may wish to take advantage of these uncertain times to press forward with a dialogue with their Cuban and Iranian counterparts, to communicate the international standards that they will be expected to satisfy and also to gain a better understanding of the Cuban and Iranian banking infrastructure.
In other words, whatever direction sanctions take under the Trump administration, investments in increased dialogue among multinational banks and their Cuban and Iranian counterparts remain key to any longer-term opportunities in Cuba or Iran.