US Ports Await Cuban Trade

cubaIn December 2014, when President Obama announced plans to normalize relations with Cuba, there was massive enthusiasm among shippers, carriers and freight forwarders that we would soon see trade again commencing between the US and Cuba. It is now February 2015, and the trade embargo is still largely in place. Senators from both parties recently introduced a bill to end the embargo with Cuba. Event if it passes the Senate, the House of Representatives must also pass it. Most of the legal shipments with Cuba currently feature commodities like poultry. Ending the embargo will add more commodities.

Before the embargo in the 1960s, commodities were traded freely and ports in New Orleans, Mobile and Tampa Bay benefited tremendously. The Journal of Commerce found that the Port of New Orleans was the top-trading destination from Cuba. If the embargo were to end, then these three ports might be in position to receive more tonnage. These ports boast short transit times to Cuba, including a 15-hour transit time from Tampa Bay. The nearby ports of Houston and Port Canaveral hope to capitalize with Cuban trade as well.

Tired of waiting on Congress, the US State Department took action last week by legalizing imports from independent entrepreneurs in Cuba. There are hundreds of thousands of these entrepreneurs in Cuba. Although imports are still limited by commodity from Cuba (no cigars or classic cars), this action defines the legal structure for trade. When the embargo is officially lifted, companies should receive an ocean freight shipping rate to ship cargo to and from Cuba.

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