Port authorities from Houston sign deal with Cuba

New commercial cooperation deal is first since Trump took office

By Hatzel Vela

HAVANA, Cuba - Authorities from the Port of Houston signed a deal with Cuban officials Wednesday in Havana. 

Port of Houston's Chief Commercial Officer Ricky Kunz signed a memo that he says will facilitate commerce and spur new business relationships between the Communist country and the U.S.

Agricultural cargo will be moving from Houston to Cuba, but although Kunz would like to do more the U.S. embargo stands in his way. 

"Unfortunately that's really all we're licensed to do at this point," Kunz said. 

The agreement is the first between Cuba and a U.S. entity since President Donald Trump announced his new Cuba policy.

"We don't think it's going to affect our agricultural products, so we're just moving forward until they tell us differently," Kunz said. 

Jose Prado Falero, the director of the maritime administration in Cuba, shook hands with Kunz. He added the two will also be exchanging studies and information that will allow them to improve services. 

In January, Florida Gov. Rick Scott threatened to pull state funds from ports that were getting ready to sign similar deals with the Cuban government. He said Florida will not do business with Cuba until "there is freedom and democracy."

Before Trump was elected, Cuban officials also signed deals with U.S. ports in Virginia, Louisiana, Lake Charles, and New Orleans among others. 

 

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