Iowa lawmaker plans trade mission to Cuba
Sen. Steve Sodders says businesses need to be ready if embargo ends
George C. Ford, The Gazette
JULY 1, 2015 | 6:56 PM
CEDAR RAPIDS — A Democratic state lawmaker is organizing a trade mission
to Cuba this summer in hopes of tapping into that market if the embargo
against the Communist island is ever lifted, as President Barack Obama
State Sen. Steve Sodders, of State Center, hopes the trip he’s arranging
for August will pave the way for Iowa to export eggs, grains and meat if
given the chance.
“We have someone coming from the Iowa Corn Growers Association and pork
producers from Traer and Marshall County,” Sodders said Wednesday. “We
have Mobile Track Solutions in Elkader, which works a lot with
Caterpillar, but they are starting to design tractors.
“That’s one of the items that Cuba desperately needs for agriculture.
Mobile Track wants to discuss making tractors to the specific size that
the Cubans need.”
Sodders said Deere & Co. was invited earlier this year, but declined
because Cuba was still on the list of nations that the United States
said support terrorism. That designation was recently lifted by the U.S.
Obama called Wednesday on Congress to lift the embargo, but that faces
stiff opposition including from some GOP presidential candidates.
Sodders said Hawkeye Hotels in Cedar Rapids will be exploring
construction of tourist hotels when travel restrictions are relaxed. He
said the Meskwaki Tribe may be interested in importing cigars, coffee
Sodders said the trade mission also will include legislators and
representatives of banks, credit unions and telecommunications providers.
“We’re hoping that some of the groups come out of there with memorandums
of agreement so that when the embargo is lifted, the Cuban government
will look at Iowa first,” Sodders said.
“We may be the first state delegation to visit the American embassy in
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