HAVANA: Cuban authorities and officials from the U.S. state of Louisiana on Tuesday here signed memoranda pertaining to ports and agriculture after a business forum attended by a trade delegation headed by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.
The understanding signed by the Port Authority of Cuba and the Port Association of Louisiana includes installations in the New Orleans and Lake Charles areas, and the other agreement was signed by Cuba’s Agriculture Business Group and the state’s Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Louisiana has been an important provider of agricultural products to Cuba and the potential exists for its firms to participate in opportunities on the island, which are not necessarily limited to the buying and selling of products, Edwards and Cuban officials agreed, as reported in local media outlets.
Edwards acknowledged that lawmakers in his state approved a resolution to ask the governor’s office to strengthen ties with Cuba with the aim of taking advantage of business opportunities on the communist island. He said that the group of almost 60 people accompanying him on his visit to Cuba includes academics from Louisiana universities, local officials and representatives of entities in the state’s economic sphere. Edwards said that the main aim of the trip is to explain the group’s priorities and take advantage “to the maximum” of opportunities that exist, with the hope of “mutual benefit” and closer relations between Cuba and Louisiana.
In addition, he said he was proud that over the past 10 years, the state exported more to Cuba than other U.S. states. On the Cuban side, the director of trade policy with the United States with the Foreign Trade Ministry, Maria de la Luz B Hamel, said that Louisiana is one of the states most closely linked with Cuba in trade, despite the restrictions imposed by the U.S. economic embargo on the island.
The U.S. delegation arrived in Havana on Monday and through Friday will pursue an agenda of meetings with local trade, public health and agriculture officials. They are also scheduled to tour the Mariel Special Development Zone, Havana’s premier project to attract foreign capital, visit the capital’s Agrarian University and an agriculture cooperative.