Saturday, January 21, 2006

US Business People Keep Boosting Trade with Cuba / 20-01-2006

US business people have signed new commercial accords with Cuba, in an action that further ignores Washington's economic blockade of the island.

The accords were inked on Thursday by the Texas-based Corpus Christi Harbor and Cuba's Alimport Food Import Company, in the presence of top directors of both entities. The agreements set out the import by Cuba of different agro-products through that port.

Corpus Christi Harbour's business director Michael Perez recalled that his entity was the first port to have signed a commercial agreement aimed at promoting free commercial relations between Cuba and the US, in 2003. Some 50,000 tons of wheat plus over 1,000 tons of beans and many other products have been exported to Cuba through that port in Texas, said the US executive.

Perez said that Cubans should know that the current exchange is not just based on trade but also on bilateral friendship and he called his trip to Havana very positive and significant for his entity and his city, Prensa Latina news agency reported.

The US business executive said they hoped that one day they will be able to visit the island without a license from the US government in direct reference to the over-40-year economic blockade of Cuba.

The president of the island's Alimport enterprise, Pedro Alvarez, praised the efficient loading work at the Corpus Christi Harbor and said that the current accord is a further step forward in the development of bilateral relations. By signing this agreement, Alimport commits itself to increasing its imports from that US port, which will be immediately implemented, said the Cuban executive.

Alvarez said that Cuba imports 100,000 tons of frozen chicken from the US and he announced future joint work with the US port in order to set up a container-boat connection between Corpus Christi and Cuba. Other prospects include the evaluation of that port's capabilities to load rice in bulk as well as other products. Alvarez also thanked the Mayor of the US city of Corpus Christi for his letter backing the port's work with Cuba and inviting Alimport directors to visit the US facilities.

The director of the US port Ruben Bonilla handed over the keys to the city of Corpus Christi to Alvarez, who officially invited the mayor of that city to visit Cuba next April. Alvarez said that at that time they will hold a business meeting aimed at signing agreements for the second half of the year.

Also on Thursday, the US Ozark Mountain Poultry signed a trade agreement with Cuba's Alimport for the export of frozen chicken through the Corpus Christi Harbor. The signing of accords was presided over by Howard Otwell, director of the US company and by Alimport President, Pedro Alvarez. This will constitute the first import of frozen chicken that Cuba receives through the Corpus Christi harbour.

(From AIN)

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