Cuba trade prospects warming up

With the recent push by President Barack Obama’s administration to normalize relations with Cuba and renew trade, the Port of New Orleans is positioned at the forefront of opportunity.

“There’s always been synergy between Cuba and New Orleans, located just 36 hours away,” said Gary LaGrange, President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. “The proximity and long-standing relationship between Cuba and New Orleans has us well-positioned should the trade embargo be lifted.”

 Prior to the 1962 trade embargo enacted by President John F. Kennedy, the Port of New Orleans was a top trading partner with Cuba. Agricultural and manufactured goods were exported to the island nation, and New Orleans received imports from Cuba as well.

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The Port of New Orleans has participated in numerous trade missions and diplomacy visits to Cuba through the years of the embargo. Since 2010 alone, more than 100,000 pounds of poultry have been exported via the Port of New Orleans to Cuba through a special allowance by the U.S. government.

Other Louisiana leaders are in agreement with lifting the trade embargo. U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Republican representing Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District, recently spoke out in favor of renewing trade with Cuba. Abraham participated in an agricultural trade mission to Cuba this spring and told the media, “We want to be the first in the gate.”

Lagrange said relaxed relations with Cuba could also advance the Port of New Orleans’ cruise and tourism business, with possible cruises to the island as well as enhanced itineraries to the eastern Caribbean to Key West and Nassau.

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