Nebraska ag industry scores deal with Cuba
By Robert Pore
Gov. Dave Heineman returned to Nebraska on Tuesday after a successful
trade mission to Cuba that resulted in $10 million in agricultural sales.
While in Cuba, Heineman attended the opening of the 25th annual Havana
International Trade Fair.
The deal signed on Monday was for $10 million in U.S. wheat that will be
sourced from Nebraska. The agreement was signed between Louis Dreyfus
and Alimport Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Pedro Alvarez.
With this latest contract, Heineman said, Nebraska has sold more than
$70 million in agricultural products to Cuba since the state's export
relationship was established in 2005.
Heineman said he appreciated the positive reception Nebraska
agricultural products have received there.
"The early results of this trip are evidence of the continuing and
expanding relationship we enjoy with Cuban officials," he said.
Members of the Nebraska trade delegation are exhibitors at the fair and
will remain in Havana to continue exploring opportunities for additional
sales agreements, Heineman said.
He said Nebraska has been rewarded for its diligence in maintaining a
strong export relationship with Cuba.
Heineman said he gives a lot of credit for that growing bond between
Nebraska and Cuba to the hard work and preparation of Nebraska companies
and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
"Their persistence will ensure that this trade mission is a success for
our farmers and ranchers," Heineman said.
Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach was also a member of the
state's trade delegation.
Ibach said the latest visit has helped further the strong relationship
Nebraska has built in recent years. He said it puts the state in a good
position to take advantage of opportunities for expanded trade in the
"Investing in a good relationship now is important to securing Nebraska
a seat at the table in the years to come," Ibach said.
Representatives of Nebraska's wheat, corn, soybean, beef and pork
industries participated in the trade mission. This was the seventh
international trade mission of Heineman's administration and the
governor's fourth trip to Cuba.
According to an Associated Press story, Cuba pledged to sign nearly $450
million in contracts with firms from the United States and dozens of
other countries during its annual trade event.
Close to 1,000 companies from 53 countries were present for the trade fair.
Along with attending the trade fair, Heineman met with Raul de la Nuez
Ramirez, Cuba's minister of foreign trade.
"For Cuba, this is a demonstration that the genocidal, economic,
commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States for
nearly 50 years has failed to achieve its objective of isolating us from
other countries," De la Nuez said.
Cuba's top trade partners are Venezuela, China, Spain, Canada, Italy and
Brazil, which together account for 70 percent of the commerce Cuba
conducts with firms from 176 total countries.
Cuba inked deals worth $432 million at the 2006 fair and expected to
exceed that tally this year.
While the U.S. embargo has been in place since 1962, a law passed by the
U.S. Congress in 2000 allows American food to be sold directly to the
island on a cash basis.