The visit by a delegation from the U.S. state of Missouri, led by its governor Jeremiah W. Nixon was an indication of the increasing number of U.S. companies who want to avail of the current trade opportunities in Cuba.

Comprising more than 30 business people and senior officials, the delegation arrived in Havana in late May and held bilateral talks, sponsored by Cuba’s Chamber of Commerce and its Foreign Trade and Investment Ministry (MINCEX).

The visit by a delegation from the U.S. state of Missouri, led by its governor Jeremiah W. Nixon was an indication of the increasing number of U.S. companies who want to avail of the current trade opportunities in Cuba.Nixon said the “The proximity of Missouri, the advantages of transport and the quality of our products allow us to bring them to Cuba easily and at a very competitive price,” when opening a business forum at Havana’s Hotel Nacional.

He explained that because both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers run through the state, low cost shipments to the Gulf of Mexico and from there to the Mariel Special Development Zone on the west coast of Cuba were a possibilty.

Nixon added that members of the Missouri business community are interested in exporting rice, soya, beef, cotton, corn, fertilizers, agricultural machinery and transport and other equipment to work with renewable energies.

Cuba “represents a very good opportunity for producers and business people from Missouri to increase commercial ties,” the governor noted.

Such trade would also facilitate the exchange of ideas between the two
countries and promote learning about each other’s culture. This would help improve the future of “our children and of future generations as well,” said Nixon.

Democrat party member Nixon went on to anounce that 20 tons of rice grown in Missouri would be donated to the island, commenting that the agreements reached in the health, biotechnology and education sectors should also prove to be mutually beneficial.

Some years ago, companies from this U.S. state received a special authorization from the U.S. government to sell cereal to Cuba, but the exports were discontinued in 2008 due to the imposition of new restrictive measures by Washington.

Expressing thanks for the donation,the MINCEX director for Trade Affairs U.S, María de la Luz B’Hamel, referred to the gesture as the symbolic start of longlasting relations that could be reinforced with the participation of all U.S. producers.

However, the economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba continues to be the main obstacle to the normalization of bilateral relations, she noted.

“Many U.S. companies have shown interest in trading with Cuba and although we consider the present commercial operations to be positive, they are still insufficient compared to the level of interest shown and the existing business opportunities.

She reiterated that the blockade actually poses the principal stumbling block.

The measures adopted by the U.S. government over the past few months are insufficient, should have had a broader scope and are yet to be implemented. Such is the regarding the use of the dollar by Cuba in international transactions, she said.

B’Hamel praised the role of the U.S. agro-industrial sector in getting a law approved in 2000 that authorizes trade with Cuba.

She said “we hope that this sector will now make similar efforts to help lift restrictions that force Cuba to buy agricultural products under costly terms.”

The directors of the Agriculture and Economy Departments of Missouri, Richard Fordyce and Mike Downing, respectively, whom the governor referred to as key figures for the development of bilateral trade links also participated in the talks.

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