Cuba to spend $118 million on U.S. food products

by Staff
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HAVANA — Cuba on Wednesday agreed to buy $118 million in various U.S. food products such as pork, corn, soybeans and Spam. Additionally, Cuban officials said they are negotiating deals that could increase the total to around $150 million.

The United States still has a 45-year-old embargo against the communist country in place, but U.S. food and agricultural products are permitted to be sold directly to Cuba with the provisions of a law passed in 2000.

"The sales this week went beyond all of our expectations," said Jim Summer of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Export Council. "When the embargo is lifted, which we hope will be very soon, these deals will be much greater."

Since 2001, Cuban officials said the country has spent more than $2.2 billion on American farm products and associated costs. The country also expects in 2007 to match the $570 million it spent in 2006 on American food and agricultural products and associated costs.

Pedro Alvarez, chairman of Alimport, a Cuban food import company, said the U.S. is "recovering the market" lost in the 1960s when the embargo began.

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