Arkansas governor visits Cuba on trade mission

GMT 03:20 2015 Tuesday ,29 September

Arab Today, arab today Arkansas governor visits Cuba on trade mission

Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas
Havana - AFP

Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas became the first US governor to visit Cuba on a trade mission after Washington and Havana restored full diplomatic ties in July.

The goal of the trip is to find the best ways to "enhance opportunity for trade between US and Cuba," said Hutchinson, speaking on Monday, ahead of a forum at Havana's Hotel Nacional with Cuban and Arkansas businessmen.

Though the focus was on promoting his southern US state, Hutchinson said that he "wants this trip to benefit both countries."

There has been a US trade embargo on Havana in place since 1962, but a loophole allows US food to be sold to Cuba for cash.
Hutchinson arrived in Cuba late Sunday along with representatives of 15 Arkansas business concerns. He discussed the possibility of Arkansas exporting rice and chicken to Cuba, as well as cooperation in biotechnology.

The Arkansans will stay until Wednesday, and their visit will include a stop at the tax-free zone at the new Mariel "megaport," which the government hopes will become a magnet for foreign investment.

The Cuban government claims that the US embargo the main obstacle to the country's economic development. However, only the US Congress can lift the embargo, and the opposition Republican legislators that control the body have no interest in doing so.

In August, Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Havana to preside over the flag-raising at the reopened US embassy after diplomatic relations were formally restored.


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