US agriculture representatives explore business opportunities in Cuba

The delegation, on a visit to the island since Sunday, is composed of 95 representatives of the US Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC), created after the announcement made by presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama on December 17 of the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations.

In a press conference on Monday in Havana, Devry Boughner, president of the Coalition, asserted that with this trip they intend to know more about Cuban agribusiness, its current situation and main products, in search of possible business with national producers.

She highlighted that the US mission also seeks to urge her country’s Congress to lift the embargo against Cuba, the bilateral trade restrictions of which has placed the US market in a position of disadvantage with respect to others of the region, like those of Argentina and Brazil.

“US agribusiness is efficient and its products are very competitive in the world market thanks to the technological development reached, and this is an experience we want to share with Cuban farmers,” underlined Michael Espy, former agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration (1993-2001).

“From Cuba we would like to import products such as lobster, shrimp, cigars and rums, of well-known brands and to which the US market has no access,” said Paul Johnson, vice-president of the USACC and president of Chicago Foods International.

“This visit is aimed at finding mechanisms to start two-way traffic, so we expect Cuban delegations to travel to our country soon,” said Boughner at the end of the press conference.

According to the program, the delegation will be divided into five groups to visit places of interest in the Cuban agricultural sector, like the El Trigal wholesale market, on the outskirts of the capital Havana; the 30 de Noviembre Sugar Mill (Artemisa); the Heroes de Yaguajay Fruit and Vegetable Cooperative (Alquizar), and the tobacco cooperatives of Consolacion del Sur and Los Palacios (Pinar del Rio).

The USACC is made up of representatives of the 28 most important groups of the American Agricultural Federation – such as Cargill and Smithfield Foods – and draws together producers of sorghum, soy, corn, rice, milk and meat.

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