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Where are US-Cuba trade relations headed?

February 6, 2012

Economics often prevails over politics. This observation is well proved by the increasing trade between Cuba and the US state of Alabama. Cuba has been an anathema for the US, since Fidel Castro took over the Central American country. Castro’s anti-US stance and his cozying up to the erstwhile Soviet Union meant US snapped off all trade links with Cuba. Trade on a limited scale was resumed only in 2001 after restrictions on exports of certain items were lifted. This has been a boon to Alabama, which found in Cuba a ready market for many of its products and a way out of the sluggish demand for its produce. Ron Sparks, Alabama’s commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, says: When I was elected to my first term, the poultry farmers in the state were in a bind. Agriculture as a whole was in a bind. We needed to expand our markets. Cuba is a natural trading partner. Cuba grows enough food to feed only about a third of its people. The rest it has to import. With largesse from USSR stopping, it has now turned to US for its needs. Though conditions laid down for trade with Cuba are tough: Goods can leave US shores for Cuba only after it has made payments for it in full. But Alabama has benefited so greatly from its Cuban link that it intends to lobby at Washington to normalize US-Cuban relations. It feels its country’s policy on Cuba has proved to be useless for the people of both countries. It finds restrictions on US citizens to travel to Cuba as impinging on citizens’ rights. Image credit