Cuban delegation to meet exporters, cruise lines at Port Everglades trade seminar

A high-level delegation of Cuban transport, trade, investment and port officials is scheduled to visit Port Everglades this week to exchange information with US investors, exporters and cruise line executives.

The Cuban officials and Port Everglades are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding aimed at fostering trade opportunities.

Port Everglades has had cargo service with Cuba for nearly 16 years, but it was just last week that Pearl Mist became the first cruise ship to sail from the port to Cuba. Eleven additional departures are planned through April.

The Cuba delegates include René Rolando Fernández Lara Cabezas, director of inland waterway and sea transport, Ministry of Transport; Ana Teresa Igarza Martinez, general director, Office of the Mariel Special Development Zone; Eradis González de la Peña, president of Almacenes Universales SA (the operator of the Port of Mariel Container Terminal); and José Leonardo Sosa Barrios, assistant director, Mariel Container Terminal.

Further delegation members are Tania Vazquez Garcia, senior official, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment; Joel Lago Oliva, Economic and Trade Office, Embassy of Cuba in Washington, DC; and Ernesto Viñas Betancourt, adviser of the deputy minister of transportation.

Executives from Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Crystal Cruises and Silversea Cruises are expected to take part in the meeting, which revolves around a seminar, ‘Doing Business with Cuba.’

This will include topics like the country’s economic environment, legal framework, sectorial policies, priorities for foreign Investment, foreign trade activity and inland and sea transportation and development priorities. Opportunities for the deep-water Mariel port and its container terminal, along with the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone, will be another focus.

‘We’re very excited for such a high-level group to come,’ said Jim Pyburn, director of business development, Port Everglades, who added the port has been working toward the visit for nearly a year.

The delegation will arrive from a stop at the Port of New Orleans and will continue on to a couple other Florida ports, Pyburn said.

The visits come amid uncertainties about the future of US-Cuba relations under the Trump administration. President Obama used his executive powers to re-establish diplomatic ties and open certain trade opportunities and travel to Cuba, but President Trump has signaled he will be reviewing these matters. The US trade embargo is still in place, and that can only be changed by Congress.

Carnival Corp.’s Fathom was the first cruise line to get the OK to sail directly from the US to Cuba starting last May. In early December a number of other US-based cruise operators got the green light, but no visits have been authorized by Cuba beyond May.

Seatrade Cruise News, January 23, 2017

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