USACC signs agreement with Cuban government agency

The memorandum of understanding focuses on a variety of agricultural areas such as two-way trade, financing and credit, production, processing and farmer training.

The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC) and Cuba’s Grupo Empresarial Agricola (GEA) signed an agreement recently formalizing their intent to increase cooperation between the two countries’ agricultural sectors.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) focuses on a variety of agricultural areas such as two-way trade, financing and credit, production, processing and farmer training. GEA is a government agency that oversees about 70 ag and retail businesses along with farmer co-ops.  USACC and GEA agreed to meet once a year to continue improving their relationship.

“We believe this memorandum serves as a foundation for the mutual advancement of the agrarian economies of both our countries,” said USACC Chair Devry Boughner Vorwerk. “The MOU is designed to be inclusive, encouraging cooperation and dialogue that will benefit everyone along the agricultural continuum — from investors to farmers in the field.”

A signing ceremony occurred in Havana during a “Learning Journey” organized by USACC. About 30 people participated in the trip, including Ron Moore, vice president of American Soybean Association and Warren County farmer.

Moore said the MOU “shows the commitment level the Cuban government has with American agribusiness to continue to open those doors for trade.”

“It amounts to potentially a $2 billion increase in exports of agricultural products across the United States into Cuba,” he said. “That’s a huge benefit for the U.S. and agriculture, and the Cuban economy.”

It was Moore’s first trip to Cuba. He noted how welcoming the Cubans were to Americans, and recent advances made to accommodate businesses, such as internet service and new taxis.

“I think the Cuban people are ready for the liberalization of trade relations with the United States,” he said. “There’s a pent up demand for U.S. products, and there’s a pent up demand on the part of the Cuban people to continue to do business and do trade. They’re an island nation. They import the majority of their food from other countries, and we’re so close to the Cuban market that it makes sense for us to be the one to do trade with them.”

But challenges remain, including cash-in-advance requirements and travel restrictions.

“That’s our goal is to liberalize those restrictions that are in place,” Moore said. “Most of those things have to be done through Congress. That’s the next challenge.”

Deana Stroisch, FarmWeekNow.com

June 7, 2016

 

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