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Renewed trade with Cuba incites many questions for those who have goods to trade, and among them are Alabama poultry farmers who are anxious to improve their relationship with this new market.
Already the fifth-largest export market for U.S. poultry producers, farmers from Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas have sent almost $1 billion worth of frozen chickens to Cuba over the last 15 years. American poultry was one of the few products exempt from the old embargoes that prevented other agricultural products from being imported.
The U.S. is the world’s largest trading nation, with exports of goods and services surpassing $2 trillion in 2011. Major export cities to Cuba include Jacksonville, FL; New Orleans, LA; and Mobile, AL, because of their close proximity to the island.
“Cuba can place an order on a Monday and probably have the product on a Friday, if they need it,” said the president of the U.S Poultry and Egg Export Council in Atlanta. Whereas, purchasing from Europe or Brazil would take 20 to 30 days.
Many politicians believe that the end of the Cold War-era freeze between Cuba and the U.S. will result in a huge boost for American trade.
Indeed, last month the U.S. Treasury Department approved an Alabama-owned company’s opening of the first American factory in Cuba since 1959. The factory will produce tractors.
Recently, Alabama’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries returned from a trip to Cuba. He said that Cubans were ready for a more open trade relationship, which would create new economic opportunities for both Cuba and Alabama.
Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford said, “When you have a market that’s 90 miles off your coast, and you’ve got these really outdated policies, we’re the ones that lose. We’re trying to look at this with a little more modern lens.”