HAVANA TIMES – Charcoal will be the first product that Cuba exports to the United States in more than 50 years, thanks to an agreement signed today between the state-owned Cuba Export company and the US-based Coabana Trading LLC, dpa reported.
“This will be a first contract, but we hope to continue our relationships for many years and not just with charcoal, but with other products that we have ready to export like honey and coffee,” said Isabel O’Reilly, director of CubaExport.
Coabana Trading LLC president Scott Gilbert said the agreement “means another plank in the construction of the bridge between the United States and Cuba.”
The first shipment of 40 tons will arrive in the United States on January 18, just two days before the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States.
The agreement opens the doors of the United States market to Cuba for the first time in more than half a century, in moments of uncertainty about the policy that Trump will take toward the island.
“We look forward to working with the new government just as we have done with Barack Obama,” Gilbert told the official Cubadebate website.
Coal is obtained from marabou, an invasive bush all too common throughout the island. It has even been a subject of speeches by Cuban President Raul Castro, who has used it as a sign of the decline of agriculture in the country. Now the marabou becomes an export product.
Currently, four Cuban companies export between 40 and 80 thousand tons of charcoal each year to more than five countries, especially in the European market.
Despite the laws of Washington’s trade embargo on Havana, measures taken by the Obama administration opened the possibility of exporting some Cuban products to the US market, provided they were shown not to come from the state sector.
Havana has repeatedly criticized the fact that some of the permitted products such as tobacco and rum, which are the star products of the Cuban economy, are excluded from the list of permitted products.