Thursday, September 26, 2019

U.S. Agri-Business Opposes Blockade
The second Bilateral Agricultural Business Conference took place in Havana, where the U.S. Ag Coalition for Cuba called for expanding trade and cooperation between the two countries

Author: Abel Reyes Montero |
September 25, 2019 10:09:40

Paul Johnson, co-president of the U.S. Ag Coalition for Cuba, insisted that trade between the two nations could be beneficial for both parties. Photo: ACNUR

The mutual benefits that a normal relationship between the United States and Cuba would bring and opposition to the blockade imposed by the U.S. government were highlighted during the second Bilateral Agricultural Business Conference that took place September 11-13 in Havana.

Paul Johnson, co-president of the U.S. Ag Coalition for Cuba, reaffirmed in his remarks that, despite the complex political situation currently existing between the two nations, U.S. citizens involved in agriculture oppose the economic, commercial, financial blockade imposed by the United States government on the island, insisting that commerce with the Cuba would be beneficial for both parties.

Johnson mentioned fruit and shrimp among the possible lines to import from Cuba to the U.S. and noted that, to date, chicken and soy products are the most exported to the island.

"Cuba represents an important market for the U.S., and we are here to recognize that, despite the challenges we face right now, the path to agreements in agriculture remains viable. A clear example of the cooperation we are seeking would be for the containers of chicken we export to Cuba to return with shrimp imports," the U.S. executive noted.

He pointed out that among the fundamental objectives of the Coalition he represents are establishing bilateral trade; revitalizing agricultural business relations; and permanently ending the blockade, adding "This week we are here as soldiers of collaboration and friendship," he said.

Moraima Céspedes Morales, director of international relations at Cuba’s Ministry of Agriculture stressed the importance of these exchanges, as they provide an ideal forum to present potential opportunities for trade between the two countries, as well as common research perspectives to support agricultural development.

Cuban international agricultural relations specialist, Juan José León, provided a brief overview of the sector here, highlighting new trends in the country’s economic model, including relations between state companies, cooperatives, and individual farmers, all active in production.He described the different forms of distribution and exploitation of land on the island, presenting facts and figures to demonstrate the potential profitability of trade between the two countries, as equals.

As a follow-up to work done in November of 2018, the event sought to encourage commercial relations between the two nations and review their respective agro-business portfolios.Also included on participants’ agenda were visits to agricultural cooperatives and research institutions, where they interacted with farmers working the land, to get an updated picture of this sector of the Cuban economy, with a view toward future agreements between the two countries.

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