Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Governor Outlines Cuba Trip In Letter To Nebraskans

KETV 7 Omaha

The following letter was issued by Gov. Dave Heineman's office:

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:

Having returned recently from my third visit to Cuba, I wanted to report on the progress made in selling Nebraska agricultural products during this latest trade mission. While this was another successful trip for Nebraska producers, it was also a turning point for our state.

Representatives of Nebraska's beef, pork, wheat, corn, soybean, and dry bean industries participated in this latest trade mission. The focus of this trip was on helping Nebraska businesses negotiate sales contracts with Alimport, the Cuban import authority, to fulfill the Memorandum of Understanding signed during a previous trade mission. I am very pleased to report that in two days, we were able to fulfill the remaining portion of the $30 million agreement forged last spring.

Nebraska businesses had signed contracts for $8.9 million in food products prior to the trip and upon our arrival in Cuba we learned that a contract worth $5.5 million had been secured with wheat producers requiring that the wheat come from Nebraska. During the trip, contracts worth approximately $16 million were signed for the purchase of 75,000 tons of Nebraska wheat and pork products.

Negotiations for additional contracts continued as I headed for home and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture has announced that negotiations for the purchase of soybeans are moving forward.

The results of this trip are evidence of the strong export relationship we've created with Cuban officials. With the success of this latest trip, Nebraska producers have now sold a total of $60 million in food products to Cuba in less than two years. Equally important is the fact that we have established our state as a reliable business partner in the eyes of Cuban officials. This represents a significant turning point in our relationship with Alimport. Because our state is seen as a trusted trading partner, Nebraska companies now have an opportunity to build on our good relationship by negotiating directly with Cuban import officials.

Our efforts in pursuing an export relationship in this new market have been rewarded, thanks to the work of Nebraska producers who've provided high quality agricultural products to Cuba and our commitment to fulfilling the two agreements we've signed with Alimport during the past two years.

We have worked hard to establish Nebraska as a reliable provider of ag products, and the opportunity for companies to negotiate sales directly with Alimport will be important in efforts to expand our export relationship in the future. It's now possible that future delegations will be able to devote more time to actual contract negotiations, rather than having to secure an agreement to purchase first.

The results of this trade mission are evidence that the time we've invested in building this relationship has paid off for our state and our producers, and I will say that this latest success is encouraging as we look for opportunities to expand not only our relationship with Cuba but with other trading partners around the world.

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