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Cuba Agrees to Buy Record $20 Million in North Dakota Commodities
January 17, 2006

The Cuban government strengthened its commercial ties to North Dakota, recently agreeing to buy a record $20 million worth of N.D. ag commodities within the next 18 months, including peas, pinto beans, lentils and hard red spring wheat.  An announcement was made in Cuba last November at the 23rd Havana International Trade Fair, in which a delegation of N.D. food and ag companies participated.

Dry edible beans were among the commodities exhibited
by the N.D. ag delegation at the 23rd Havana International
Trade Fair in Cuba last November.

It was three years ago when the
U.S. eased trade restrictions to Cuba, allowing food and ag commodity sales. Shortly after the sanctions eased, a delegation of N.D. trade officials traveled to Cuba to begin opening trade doors.  The delegation included Tim Courneya, executive vice president of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association. North Dakotas sales to Cuba have totaled about $21.2 million since 2002, according to N.D. Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson.  Donna Thronson, a trade official with the N.D. Department of Ag, notes that Cuba seems to be interested in pintos, blacks, and navies for dry bean types, and like other importers, is price conscious.

Courneya noted in the 2002 trade mission that
Cuba tended to buy edible beans from China, taking a month or longer to ship, typically in larger volume shipments requiring ample storage.  The U.S., however, has an advantage of being able to ship edibles to Cuba in about a week, requiring less concern about storage and quality deterioration.  We possibly could grow this market into a number one or number two trading partner, said Courneya, in a press conference during the 2002 trade mission.  Cubas most recent purchase commitment is certainly a positive sign.

N.D. Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson and Pedro Alvarez, Cuba's top agricultural official, signing a joint trade communique in Cuba last November.


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