Ken Dey | Idaho Statesman
Governor Butch Otter of Idaho is hoping his first trade mission will be to Cuba.
But before the trip can happen the state has to receive approval from the U.S. State Department to visit the communist country. Cuba has been under a trade and travel embargo by the United States for more than 40 years.
Jon Hanian, a spokesman for the governor, said the state has filed the required applications and is hoping to hear back no later than the end of the month.
Idaho Commerce and Labor Director Roger Madsen said if all the details are worked out, the mission would take place sometime in April.
Hanian said the tour would include a mix of state officials and industry and business leaders. This isn’t the first time Otter has visited Cuba.
While a U.S. Congressman, he visited the country several times. Between 2003 and 2004, he made three separate trips to Cuba including a February 2004 visit with Idaho Sen. Larry Craig. The two had a three-hour meeting with Cuba President Fidel Castro in which they discussed more trade opportunities with the United States.
The two also negotiated a $10 million trade agreement with Cuba’s food import company to buy Idaho’s agricultural products.
Although there has been a U.S. trade and travel embargo against Cuba for more than 40 years, the U.S. government authorized the sale of food and medicine to Cuba in 2000.
Hanian said the goal of the Governor’s mission would be to sell Idaho agricultural and wood products to the country.