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Cuba

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Bill

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Hypocrisy and opportunity.

Opinion, The Western Producer, April 14, 2005,
Wendy R. Holm, P.Ag. (797 words)

On March 30th, federal agriculture minister Andy Mitchell posed
with his Cuban counterpart, Alfredo Jordán Morales, in a Havana
hotel.

The next day brought the Ottawa release: along with beef from
animals of all ages, protocols signed by the two ministers mean
Canada.s cattle are now as welcome in Cuba as Canada.s tourists.

For both Canada and Cuba, the timing couldn't be better.



Canada's farmers need diversified markets. Cuba needs new

suppliers to meet its burgeoning tourism demand. And, thanks to
a recently published United States treasury rule, the Americans
are about to be embargoed right out of their newfound Cuban
markets. The opportunity is both ripe and lucrative for Canadian
farmers.

Growing at a rate of 20 percent a year for the past decade,
tourism now fuels 40 percent of the Cuban economy, creating both
the currency and the demand for imported food products to meet
the needs of 11 million Cubans and another 2 million tourists who
visit Cuba annually- mostly from Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain and
Mexico.

In 1999, Canada shipped $163 million in farm products to Cuba.
In 2000 and 2001, markets for beef, grains and dairy expanded
aggressively. By 2001, Canada.s meat sales to Cuba totaled $46.2
million - up from $32.9 million in two years and representing
forty percent of Canada.s food exports to Cuba.

Dairy sales were $19 million, up from $14 million in 1999 and
representing 30 percent of our food exports to Cuba. Grain
shipments remained steady at $23 million.

Suddenly, in December 2001, the tide changed.

By 2002, Canada's food exports to Cuba had fallen by 40 percent.

France, Brazil, Spain and Mexico suffered similar declines;

Argentina's exports dropped a whopping 80 percent.


By 2003, Canadian shipments of meat, grains and dairy products to
Cuba were down 55, 99 and 40 percent, respectively, from 1999
levels; total exports lagged by 78 percent. And they never
recovered.

What happened? Did the tiny island nation run out of cash? Did
several years of drought, hurricanes, low sugar prices, and high

energy costs curb Cuba's appetite or ability to pay for foreign

foods?

Not on your life. What happened is that American agri-food
giants stole Canada.s markets right out from under our prim
Canadian noses.

In December 2001, a convenient loophole - emergency measures.

following Hurricane Michelle - in Washington.s then-40 year trade

embargo allowed Archer Daniels Midland, Tyson and others to trade
where grannies fear to tread, and as a result, U.S. meat,
poultry, dairy, grains and rice began displacing product from
Canada and other nations in Cuba.s domestic and growing tourism
sectors.

With cash on the barrelhead payments that had shareholders

giggling into their Blackberries, US agri-business giants jumped

on the Cuban market like fleas to a dog. Made good sense for
Cuba too. Who better to agitate against Washington.s crippling
economic blockade than powerful economic interests from within?


In the same 40-month period that it became illegal for Cuban
Americans to visit their relatives more than once in three years,
U.S. food sales to Cuba totaled over $1 billion US, making
corporate America Cuba.s number one food supplier.

But the February 25th U.S. treasury rule could very well change
all that, creating important opportunities for Canada.

Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba.s National Assembly, says Cuba
will find alternative suppliers if forced to pay while goods
remain in US ports because it would make such payments subject to
seizure by anti-Castro exiles who have won legal claims in
Florida courts against the Cuban government.

Such a requirement makes our purchases almost impossible to
proceed. said Pedro Alvarez, head of Cuba.s food-importing agency
Alimport.

Getting around this with letters of credit is cumbersome and
costly. And for strategic reasons, it may well make sense for

Cuba to allow American agri-food conglomerates to now feel the
pinch of the blockade. All the better to fight it with, my
dears.

Enter Canada. With 100 years of continuous trade relations
behind us, good proximity to market and some of the lowest food
prices in the world, Canada is the natural player to step into
the trade box.

More than 400,000 Canadians visited Cuba last year, making us
Cuba.s most important source of tourism. Why shouldn.t Canada be
Cuba.s most important source of food products?

Cuba opened its borders to imports of Canadian beef of any age on
December 14th, 2004. On March 30th, Cuba opened its border to
live cattle, sheep and goats, bovine semen and embryos.

The ball is in Canada.s court. One billion in food sales in 40
months is nothing to sneeze at. Hopefully, Minister Mitchell.s
trip to Havana signals more serious pursuit of the Cuban market .
not only as a destination for Canadian tourists, but also as a
growing and stable market for Canadian farmers.


Wendy R. Holm, P.Ag. [email protected],

http://www.theholmteam.ca
 

Sandhusker

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We've had this embargo against Cuba because they are supposed to be a dangerous Communist country. Yet, we give China most-favored-nation status. What has Cuba done that China hasn't? Who could take our dollars and cause us a world of grief? I guess it's not sound science for a communist to speak spanish? :?
 

Murgen

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What has Cuba done that China hasn't?

The Cuban missle crisis! The immediate threat was greater at that time! US trade sanctions used to get the job done, but not now.

What did trade sanctions do to Iraq, besides starve people?

Disagreements cannot be fought with trade sanctions by the US, the US needs export markets to pay bills!

Threats of sanctions don't work anymore, Japan for example! What will the US do, stop trading with China, go ahead, there are lots of other countries willing to pick up the slack! But the US is owed too much money!
 

Silver

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Sandhusker said:
We've had this embargo against Cuba because they are supposed to be a dangerous Communist country. Yet, we give China most-favored-nation status. What has Cuba done that China hasn't? Who could take our dollars and cause us a world of grief? I guess it's not sound science for a communist to speak spanish? :?


China holds at least 200 billion in US T-bills. Turns out you can actually buy most-favoured nation status. I'm guessing if Cuba was bankrolling the US economy there would be no embargo.
 

Murgen

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China holds at least 200 billion in US T-bills. Turns out you can actually buy most-favoured nation status. I'm guessing if Cuba was bankrolling the US economy there would be no embargo

Is that who's controlling interest rates? Damn, wouldn't want to raise them to fast and cause inflation.

That's what few realize, if the US was not trading, both ingoing and outgoing, they would be boobs up. (R-calf would like to think it's a closed society), but hey, GLOBALIZATION, the US created it and now, live with it.
 

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