Gov. Edwards returns after successful trip to Cuba

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Governor John Bel Edwards has reached an agreement with Cuba that could lead to stronger trade relations with the country.

For five decades there has been a ban on most exports to Cuba, but now Governor John Bel Edwards has reached a series of agreements with the country to pave the way for future trade.

Tuesday, Governor John Bel Edwards signed a series of agreements with Cuban officials, committing to a deeper relationship with the country.

“Trade in general is something that can be beneficial to a lot of folks,” said American Sugarcane League General Manager Jim Simon, “But you have to be careful, it’s got to be fair trade. We certainly don’t need any industry in the U.S. to be overrun by foreign products that are produced under unfair conditions.”

While exporting rice and poultry could benefit Louisiana greatly, Simon says exporting sugarcane would do the opposite.

“Sugar is exported from Cuba into countries all over the world. So our concern would be that unfettered access would be given to Cuba into the U.S.,” said Simon, “In the U.S. we are net importers so we do not produce enough sugar in the U.S. to meet our own needs.”

Ultimately U.S. lawmakers get to decide the future of the embargo; and until they lift the ban, there won’t be much of a change.

“If it’s an opportunity for rice growers, poultry and some of those corn and soy bean commodities then it’s an opportunity,” said Simon, “But congress, the president, there’s a lot of things that have to happen before a lot of this stuff materializes.”

Louisiana has led all states in exports to Cuba over the past decade.

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