Cuba Buys Spam, Eggs, Macaroni, Cheese as U.S. Exports Soargreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
By Blair Pethel
Washington, Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. exports to Cuba have grown fifty-fold this year as Archer Daniels Midland Co., Hormel Foods Corp. and other companies take advantage of a law opening the Communist-led island to food sales.
Cuba has bought $109.4 million worth of U.S. products as of September, the U.S. Commerce Department says. Purchases include chicken and grain as well as processed foods such as Hormel's Spam lunch meat and Kraft Foods Inc.'s macaroni and cheese.
That's up from $2.1 million worth of goods, mostly pharmaceuticals, in the first nine months of 2001. Advocates of expanded trade say the sales growth shows why an embargo on most trade imposed more than four decades ago should be lifted.
``The market is huge,'' said Arnold Huerta, Latin American marketing manager at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, which represents companies including Deere & Co., Terex Corp. and Fiat SpA's Case New Holland. ``We are losing out to the Europeans, Latin Americans and Asians who have the market.''
U.S. food is reaching Cuba, an island of 11 million people some 90 miles from Florida, under a law passed two years ago and implemented in December 2001.
From last place among U.S. farm-goods export markets in 2000, Cuba this year will end at about No. 46 out of 228 countries, eclipsing South Africa, Chile and several members of the European Union, according to figures from the U.S. Agriculture Department.
Cuba has contracted for more than $165 million in commodities and food products this year, and that figure will rise in 2003, said John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council.
The island's food-importing agency, Alimport, has purchased a wide variety of U.S. agricultural products, including buttermilk, onions, soybeans, chewing gum, fruit juices, wine, tomato sauce and soft drinks.
Huerta said his association and several others are working with lawmakers in Washington to have goods added to the permitted sales list. He declined to speculate when it may happen.
The U.S. embargo followed Fidel Castro's seizure of U.S. corporate assets when his revolution took control of the island in 1959.
The Bush administration has criticized the food sales, saying they help prop up the Castro regime.
-- Anonymous, November 25, 2002