Eighteen companies will join Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue on June 6-8 business mission aimed at boosting the state’s exports to Cuba.
The trip’s 43 participants will include representatives from shipping, telecommunications and lumber companies, as well as exporters of poultry, pecans and bread. The cost of the three-day mission was $2,450 per person.
A nearly 50-year-old U.S. embargo prohibits American companies from selling to Cuba, but it was relaxed in 2000 to exclude agricultural products, medicines, medical supplies and telecommunications products.
Georgia is among the leading states capitalizing on this change. In the first five months of 2010, exports to Cuba were up 141 percent compared to the same period last year, according to a release by the governor’s office. Poultry accounted for about half the value of the $42.5 million worth of Georgia products sold to Cuba last year. Other top exports include soybeans, pork, sausage and margarine.
Cuba’s government rations food to its people and imports a large proportion of its food supply.
During the trip to Havana, Mr. Perdue will lead a meeting with Alimport, the Cuban government company tasked with purchasing agricultural products from overseas suppliers. Along with a few state legislators, Mr. Perdue will be joined by leaders from state-wide organizations including the Georgia Poultry Foundation, Georgia Agribusiness Council, Georgia Dairy Farmer, Georgia Farm Bureau and the Georgia Center of Innovation for Agriculture, among others.
“Our intent with this mission is to develop relationships that can bring more business for our companies and for the state,” Mr. Perdue said in a release.
By promoting Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the governor also hopes to present Georgia as a gateway to the U.S. for Cuban visitors. Although Americans are in most cases legally forbidden to travel to Cuba, President Obama last year relaxed most restrictions on Cubans visiting relatives in the U.S.
For the past decade, Georgia delegations have frequented the communist-led island nation, which in some places sits less than 100 miles from the Florida coast. State legislators last visited Cuba in November 2009.
State legislators to join the June 6-8 trip include Sen. Don Balfour, Sen. Tommie Williams and Rep. Terry England.
Participating companies include Flowers Foods Inc., Beadles Lumber Co., Balfour Lumber Co., Visions Telecom Inc., Claxton Poultry Corp., Register International Inc., South Georgia Pecan Co. and others.