The prospects for Georgia companies to do business with Cuba appear to be improving after a Georgia Department of Agriculture mission to the Caribbean island last month, according to Andrés Villegas, the department’s director of international trade and marketing.

          Mr. Villegas told GlobalFax in an interview that five Georgia agriculture companies are in the process of obtaining licenses to sell their products to Cuba, and one agribusiness company, which he declined to identify at the company’s request, has already secured a license and is shipping its products from Savannah to Havana.

          Information on how to obtain a license for doing business with Cuba is available through the Bureau of Export Controls on the U.S. Department of Treasury and U.S. Department of Agriculture Web sites, Mr. Villegas said.

          But because of misinformation surrounding U.S. regulations on trading with Cuba, many companies do not realize business opportunities may be available, he noted. And the process is still not easy, he added. “The only way to actually find out how to do business there is to go there.”

The recent mission gave the six Georgia companies the contacts and logistical know-how to develop trade relationships, Mr. Villegas said.

This year’s agribusiness delegation of seven representatives from six feed grain, frozen bulk food, lumber, transportation and turf companies met with Cuban government officials. They also met with the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, which represents foreign interests in Cuba, government-owned procurement agencies and private corporations in Havana.

Since the passage in Congress of the Bridges to the Cuban People Act of 2001, U.S. companies have been legally permitted to export food and medicine to Cuba.

          With support from private industries, universities and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin, the agriculture department is now working on bringing a group of Cuban horticultural scientists to Atlanta, Mr. Villegas said.

Contact Mr. Villegas at (404) 656-3740. Visit or