NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Cuba is a solid step toward increased trade and investment between the United States and the communist nation, according to one analyst at IHS.

Diego Moya-Ocampos, Senior Latin American Analyst at IHS, said there are limits, however, to how much progress can be made while the U.S. embargo against Cuba continues, and he doesn't see the embargo being lifted for the next few years.

"As long as Republicans control the Congress, this is something that isn't likely to happen," Moya-Ocampos said. "And it's unlikely to happen because President Raul Castro isn't likely to step down before 2018."

Moya-Ocampos added that more action is needed from Cuba. "We're not seeing any clear sign from the Cuban side of moving forward toward democratization or respecting dissident human rights," he said.

There would have to be significant political reform in Cuba before the U.S. lifts the embargo, he said. Still, increased trade and investment is happening, albeit slowly.

Moya-Ocampos said the State Department's removal of Cuba from its list of states sponsoring terrorism gave the Obama administration more room to grant licenses to U.S. companies who meet certain guidelines. The U.S. government currently is allowed to grant licenses to companies conducting aid, educational or humanitarian activities in Cuba. According to Moya-Ocampos, that could include the sale and export of medicines and medical supplies, food and agricultural commodities, financial services and transport services.

On Friday, Kerry will travel to Havana and officially raise the American flag over the U.S. embassy in Cuba. The two countries restored diplomatic relations last month. The trip will mark the first U.S. secretary of state visit to Cuba since 1945.