Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Tampa Port Authority won't lobby for end of U.S. trade embargo with Cuba
By Steve Huettel, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Developer Carl Lindell, back from a fact-finding trip to Cuba, tried
rallying fellow Tampa Port Authority commissioners Tuesday to push for
an end to the U.S. trade embargo on the island nation. He suggested that
the public agency send a delegation to explore trade opportunities and
urged commissioners to rattle the cages of local members of Congress.

Their unanimous response: thanks, but no thanks.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio noted that the embargo has endured through 10
presidents, and it would be wrong for the Port Authority to take a stand.

"Obviously, there are complexities … that we may never know about," she
said. Any elected official is free to lobby anyone in Washington, Iorio
said. "But as a collective effort on the part of the board, I don't
think it's appropriate to focus on a particular country."

Lindell and Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern were among a group
that met with National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon and Trade
Minister Alberto Betancourt. The leaders told them that geography and
historic ties made Tampa their port of choice.

"We are letting this ready opportunity pass us by, letting our
competition seize the lion's share of business," Mulhern told port
commissioners at their monthly meeting.

U.S. companies can sell agricultural and humanitarian products, such as
medicine, to Cuba on a cash-only basis. Of the $4 billion in sales from
2002 to 2008, only 6 percent came from Florida, Mulhern said.

A small amount, largely food supplements for cattle, moved from Tampa.
Crops grown in the Midwest are typically moved by barge down the
Mississippi River and shipped from gulf ports such as New Orleans and
Corpus Christi, Texas.

Lindell told commissioners the port won't benefit from trade with Cuba
until Congress lifts the embargo. None of the other six port
commissioners backed him up, saying the embargo is a federal issue.

Separately, port director Richard Wainio said several local importers
have complained that overzealous federal inspectors emptied containers
and slowed shipments. Some contents of a refrigerated container were
spoiled, he said, and a tile importer twice had shipments disrupted.

"The last thing we want is a perception that if you bring a container to
Tampa, it'll be pulled apart, but in Miami or Jacksonville or Port
Everglades, they won't get searched (as frequently)," Wainio said.

Steve Huettel can be reached at or (813) 226-3384.

[Last modified: Aug 18, 2009 08:55 PM]

Tampa Port Authority won't lobby for end of U.S. trade embargo with Cuba
– St. Petersburg Times (18 August 2009)

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