(Posted Fri. Apr 22nd, 2016)
The National Corn Growers Association hosted a delegation of Cuban importers and officials yesterday visiting as part of a U.S. Grains Council trade team. The group met with officials in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Missouri and Louisiana to learn about the U.S. grain production and exporting systems and see the advantages of purchasing U.S. coarse grains and co-products.
Back in Washington, NCGA continues to call on Congress to pass legislation that will reduce trade barriers, normalize relations, and help build a two-way trade relationship with Cuba.
Cuba’s proximity makes it a logical buyer of U.S. farm products, but the longtime embargo has meant lost sales both there and in the region. If the United States captured all of Cuba’s corn demand, it would be the 12th largest market for U.S. corn farmers worldwide. Cuba is also likely to become the regional hub for trade and economic activity, thanks to its new deep-water port – making it an important part of building global demand for American grain, meat, and dairy.
Although the Council has been working with Cuba in years, efforts have accelerated since the Obama Administration’s December 2014 announcement that it would seek to dismantle the 50-year-old restrictions on how companies and individuals interact with the island nation. The Council has since reassessed the Cuban market and continues to work at reducing barriers to market entry.
This week’s team is a direct outgrowth of that work, giving staff in Cuba’s food importer, Alimport, the opportunity to learn more about U.S. grain production, management, buying and exports.
Although agricultural exports to Cuba are legal, the financing and trade restrictions have hampered the ability of American farmers to compete with other countries, such as Argentina and Brazil, which do not face the same restrictions.
Financing and trade restrictions between the United States and Cuba have hurt the ability of American farmers to compete with countries such as Argentina and Brazil, which do not face the same restrictions. Lifting the embargo and normalizing trade relations will give American farmers and ranchers a more level playing field to compete for Cuba’s business. Still, there are opportunities for partnership between the U.S. ag value chain and the Cuban feed, livestock and poultry industries.
The team’s meetings this week are intended to help address these challenges and are a critical part of the U.S. Grains Council’s market development efforts in the island nation.
Additional photos are available here.