With diplomatic relations restored between the U.S. and Cuba and some travel and trade restrictions being eased, two U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) staff members recently conducted a fact-finding visit to Cuba to examine current market conditions and to research potential export opportunities for U.S red meat.
While Cuba has been open to U.S. pork and beef shipments for many years, USMEF said several barriers exist that continue to inhibit exports – such as lack of financing for Cuban buyers and the requirement that all U.S. goods entering Cuba must be imported through a single government entity: Alimport. Even with these obstacles in place, however, new opportunities are beginning to surface in Cuba because of the rapid increase in tourism and surging investment in Cuba’s hospitality industry, the group said.
Gerardo Rodriguez, USMEF marketing director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic, compared current opportunities in Cuba to those that existed in the Dominican Republic prior to approval of the U.S.-Dominican Republic/Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). USMEF Caribbean representative Liz Wunderlich discussed specific near-term opportunities for U.S. meat that are emerging in Cuba, including a rapid increase in hotel capacity and the introduction of new cruise ship services to Cuba.