U.S. Companies Sell $259 Million of Goods to Cuba
By VANESSA ARRINGTON, Associated Press Writer
Fri Nov 11, 5:03 PM ET
HAVANA - American companies sold $259 million of food and agricultural products to Cuba at a trade fair last week, the head of the island’s food import company Alimport said Friday.
Pedro Alvarez said his company expects to sign contracts worth $40 million more by year’s end.
Alimport also signed contracts with companies from other countries, agreeing to buy $67 million of rice from Vietnam, $35 million of powdered milk from New Zealand, $33 million of meat and beans from China, and $25 million of chicken from Brazil, among others.
Tight U.S. restrictions on trade with the communist-run island make doing business with the United States a hassle, but Cuba has no plans of halting its purchases any time soon, Alvarez told The Associated Press.
U.S. farmers and members of Congress representing agricultural, often Republican, states have become some of Cuba’s top lobbyists, pushing for normalized trade with the island.
Cuba has been under an American trade embargo for more than four decades, but a law passed by Congress in 2000 allows American food to be sold directly to the island on a cash basis. Recent restrictions require Cuba to pay for the goods in full before they leave American ports.
More than 40 U.S. lawmakers signed a letter this week calling for those recent restrictions to be lifted.
Alvarez said that by year’s end, Cuba plans to surpass the $474 million it paid last year to buy American farm goods, including shipping and hefty bank fees to send payments through third nations.