Daniel McNeel, executive director of Gulfport, Mississippi, and Pedro Alvarez, head of ALIMPORT, Cuba┤s food import company, have renewed an agreement to increase shipments from that harbor to Cuba.
The accord with Gulfport, the third most important southern US seaport, was first signed in 2003. McNeel said he would be pleased if the renewal signed Thursday would help boost bilateral trade exchange.
McNeel called Cuba a natural destination since a ship is able to cover the distance between the two countries in barely 26 hours, but transactions remain unidirectional since US laws forbid imports from from the Island.
Alvarez said that such hostile policy hinders traffic between Gulfport and Cuban ports. Today the trips are limited to three or four, when the real flow could range between 12 and 15. That estimate does include cruise ships that could have trips daily.
Washington exceptionally authorized in December 2001 limited food sales to Cuba, whose agriculture had been harshly hit by Hurricane Michelle.
Since then, imports have surpassed US$ 1 billion. In 2002 the figure stayed below US$176 millions and climbed to US$470 millions in 2003.
For his part, Alvarez highlighted the increasing number of US citizens and companies opposing Washington"s hostility against the island and on bilateral exchange, and voiced Cuba"s interest to foster and enhance trade beyond the food industry.