Cuba seen as ripe market for Georgia’s poultry, other exports

ATLANTA – State lawmakers are evaluating what improved relations with Cuba could mean for one of Georgia’s top exports – poultry.

Already, the communist country 550 miles south of Georgia is gobbling up the state’s poultry – in spite of a longstanding U.S. embargo on exports to Cuba that exempts food.

In fact, Georgia exports had their strongest year yet with Cuba just last year, according to Mary Waters, deputy commissioner of international trade with the state’s Department of Economic Development.

Georgia growers sold nearly $65 million worth of two products to Cuba last year – soybean oil cake, which was the bulk of the exports, and poultry.

Trade with Cuba has been volatile over the years, Waters added.

In 2014, Cuba bought about $8 million in poultry products from Georgia, nearly 40 percent less the previous year.

A slight increase is expected for this year, she said.

But Cuba’s willingness to do business with Georgia farmers, despite the embargo and the storied tensions between the two countries, has some feeling optimistic about the possibilities.

“They can’t raise enough yard birds – enough chickens – to feed their own people,” said Charles Shapiro, president of the World Affairs Council of Atlanta, during a legislative committee hearing Tuesday.

By Jill Nolin CNHI state reporter, Times Entreprise

August 12, 2015

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