Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin returned Saturday after spending two days in Cuba on a trade mission to discuss new trade and export opportunities for West Virginia businesses.
The visit marked his sixth and final international trip. Tomblin is the sixth governor to visit Cuba since diplomatic relations resumed last year.
According to the Global Times, Tomblin told media at a press conference in Havana that he hopes President-elect Donald Trump’s administration will continue efforts made by President Barack Obama’s administration since 2014.
He also called for lifting the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, media outlets reported.
Media outlets reported Tomblin met with ministers and government officials to explore possible trade opportunities.
“Our goal was the highlight West Virginia’s outstanding exporters and pursue opportunities for trade between our state and Cuba, and I believe we did so with great success,” Tomblin said in a Monday release from his office. “Like other governors across the country, I believed it was extremely important to take advantage of the new opportunity before us to visit with Cuban officials as the U.S. And Cuba have recently started to normalize trade relations. In today’s economy, exporting is vital for business success—and this is another opening for us to take the Mountain State to the world market.”
Last year, West Virginia businesses exported goods and services to more than 141 countries, totaling $5.8 billion.
“During my time as governor, I have had the privilege of representing the people of West Virginia by traveling across the country and around the world and sharing what makes our state a great place to live, work and do business,” Tomblin said. “I was pleased to share with Cuban officials not only more information about the goods and services West Virginia offers but also our state’s dependable workers who have allowed so many of our businesses to grow local operations to a global scale.
Officials from Pilgrim’s Pride, Multicoat and Industrial Technologies joined in the visit looking to increase their export potential, the news release said.
“We went into this trade mission without any expectations, and I can tell you it exceeded any hopes we could have had. Last week, we learned that Cuba has a strong economic market for many products, including our own. We believe this will be a game changer for our product,” said Multicoat Vice President John Dill.
“I normally spend the Monday before Thanksgiving in a tree stand,” Dill said, “but I’m so excited about these new opportunities that I’m already in the office following up on leads we established. We appreciate Gov. Tomblin leading this mission and for the state giving us the opportunity to be a part of the state’s sales team.”
Andrea Lannom, Register-Herald Reporter
November 22, 2016