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Posted June 17, 2005 by publisher in Cuba-US Trade

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The Associated Press

State economic development officials are planning another trade mission to Cuba in hopes of finding more deals for Louisiana businesses.

A contract was signed in March committing Cuba to spend $15 million over 18 months for Louisiana products, said Felipe Martinez, project manager for the Department of Economic Development.

Martinez joined Gov. Kathleen Blanco and a delegation of politicians and business leaders in March during a trade mission to Cuba. The trip drew sharp criticism from some Cuban natives in the United States who said the state should not be helping to prop up the government of Fidel Castro.

During a speech Wednesday at the World Trade Center, Martinez said the next trip probably would take place in July.

Before Castro seized power in 1959, Havana was New Orleans’ largest trading partner. Last year, the value of Louisiana exports to Cuba totaled just under $165 million, up 9.5 percent from the previous year and 85.5 percent more than in 2003.

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