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News 2330 views last update:14 Jan 2016

US grain industry say Cuba has potential

A few months after the Obama Administration made a splash with the announcement it would seek to normalise trade relations with Cuba, the US grain industry is making moves to seize the opportunity for increased exports there.

An exploratory mission with representatives from across the US agri sector recently departed for the island nation to assess the countryside, meet with industry leaders and re-engage the US agricultural sector with Cuban officials. Ron Gray, US Grains Council (USGC) chairman and a farmer from Illinois, and Marri Carrow, USGC regional director for the Western Hemisphere, will represent the Council on the team.

Cuba 12th largest overseas market for import of corn

Cuba has purchased corn from the US since the early 2000s with market share varying widely from as high as 100% to just 15% last marketing year. The country has purchased distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) from the US since 2005. If Cuba purchased all of its imported corn from the US, it would be the 12th largest overseas market for the product.

Primary issue is financing restrictions

The primary issue standing in the way of increasing US market share is financing restrictions. While payment rules that require cash to be transferred before the product arrives at the port are being eased under the new Administration's new initiative, full removal of the embargo will require Congressional action.

Removing the long-standing trade barriers with Cuba

The buzz about the potential for US agriculture in Cuba extended to discussions at the 2015 Commodity Classic, the annual convention for corn, sorghum, soybean and wheat growers held this week in Phoenix. Those organizations as well as most mainstream farm groups support removing the long-standing trade barriers with Cuba and have indicated their plans to work with Members of Congress on appropriate legislative action.

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