Abraham: Trade possibilities with Cuba unlimited
Greg Hilburn, email@example.com 3:57 p.m. CDT April 11, 2016
BATON ROUGE — Fifth District U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, who returned from
a trade mission to Cuba Saturday, said Louisiana farmers could
experience a boon when decades-long restrictions are finally lifted.
“For us the possibilities are unlimited,” said Abraham, R-Alto, who
coordinated the trip with Arkansas Congressman Rick Crawford,
R-Jonesboro, and producers from both states.
Cubans especially crave Louisiana rice, and Acadiana rice farmer Richard
Fontenot believes the island nation could buy as much as half of the
state’s crop when the trade embargo is eventually lifted.
But Abraham, who met with the country’s minister of finance, minister of
commerce and agriculture officials, said all Louisiana commodities could
benefit after normalization.
“They very much want our products,” Abraham said. “There’s definitely a
renewed excitement among the Cuban people about the benefits of trade
with the United States.”
State Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, was also on the trade mission.
“There’s such great potential,” said Thompson, chairman of the Senate
Agriculture Committee. “All of the pieces and parts fit together from
our products to the logistics to the Cubans’ desire for our commodities.
“My sense was they understand the benefits of future collaboration both
for us and for them.”
Abraham said the group had no travel restrictions while on the island.
“They were honest, open and forthcoming about their abilities and lack
of abilities at this point,” Abraham said.
Abraham said he believes the embargo could be eliminated as soon as this
year, but more likely next year after the presidential election.
“My sense on the House side is a majority of representatives are
already on board,” he said.
That’s why Abraham said he wanted to make a first impression with the
“Once the embargo is lifted we want to be the first out of the gate,” he
said. “I want them to know us and know what we bring to the table.”
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