Cuba signed 270 million dollars in contracts with US firms at a fair here, Cuba’s import chief said.
The United States has imposed an embargo against Cuba since the early 1960s, but the communist-ruled island has been allowed to buy food and medicine from its northern neighbor since 2001.
“Despite the commerce restrictions imposed by the blockade (embargo), we have signed with companies of the United States contracts of 260 or 270 million dollars” at the 23rd Havana International Fair, said Pedro Alvarez, president of the Alimport monopoly.
Cuba plans to buy 500 million dollars worth of food from the United States this year, Alvarez said.
He said the figure could have been bigger without new restrictions imposed in February by President George W. Bush’s administration requiring Cuba to pay in advance for US goods.
“What we sign today is insignificant compared to what we could sign if trade restrictions did no exist,” he said.
The fair was attended by 188 US companies with 370 executives from 31 US states, according to organizers.
Among the deals that were signed, Cuba agreed to buy 20 million dollars worth of food, including 30,000 tonnes of peas, from the state of North Dakota. It also signed a 27 million dollar food deal with Nebraska and 20 million dollar contract with Virginia.