The President wants Congress to lift the trade embargo with Cuba.
That could open up a new market to farmers here in the Central Valley.
President Obama said Monday that American companies are already investing in Cuba, from cruise ship operators to General Electric. Cuba imports much of its food and has the potential to be a market for exports from valley farms.
President Obama is using his trip to Cuba to try and build connections between the island nation and American businesses. He sees a benefit to lifting the trade embargo on Cuba.
“One of the best ways to help the Cuban people succeed and improve their lives is for the U.S. Congress to lift the trade embargo once and for all,” President Obama
If that happens, that could open a new market for farmers in the valley to export their products.
“With four hundred crops, we’ve got something they want,” said Fresno County farmer, Paul Betancourt.
Valley farmer Paul Betancourt met with Cuban diplomats ten years ago when he was head of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.
“They’re very interested in our products because we’re closer than their other markets. Getting rice from china for example,” Betancourt said.
Havana is just about 230 miles from Miami, Florida and the U.S..
The trade embargo has severed the ties between the countries.
“Then we’ve got to set up shipping links, you’ve got to set up lines of credit, who are you selling to, and when are they going to pay,” Betancourt said.
Betancourt says establishing trade relationships takes time.
“The President going this week doesn’t mean that we’re going to be selling crops next week. We’re going to have to see how this develops,” Betancourt said. “Peaceful trade beats tension any time. And if we can develop healthy relationships with the Cubans and show them what we can do we will create a new market and it’s a great opportunity for us,” he added.
The President said Monday night the trade embargo with Cuba will end, but he can’t say when that will be.