HAVANA -- ING Bank of the Netherlands said it has received a license that will make it the first foreign bank to operate in Cuba since the 1959 revolution.

Bert Denkers, general manager of the bank's trade and commodities finance division, said the bank plans to open an office in Havana on Aug. 5, focusing initially on financing commodities such as Cuban sugar, nickel exports, and citrus.

ING will operate through Netherlands Caribbean bank, a 50-50 joint venture with a private Cuban shipping and trading company, Acemex SA, which is registered in Lichtenstein and controlled by the Cuban government.

Cuba promised last year to open its financial services sector to foreign participation, though retail banking remains restricted to Cuba's national bank.

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