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Last Updated:[26-08-2009 06:47:33 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

New Mexico Gov Calls the Trade Mission to Cuba Productive

tradenews New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson after meeting up with the top political and trade representatives of Cuba to promote agri-business has stated the exchanges among them were ‘very positive’. Richardson in an interview told that he had discussions with Ricardo Alarcon, the leader of the National Assembly, Pedro Alvarez, the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Igor Montero, president of Alimport, the Cuban government agency responsible for agricultural commerce.

Richardson who began his tour to Cuba this Monday on his own expenditure due to his state’s budgetary status would be heading back to New Mexico on Friday. Alarie Ray Garcia, spokesperson for the governor informed the press that the rest of the official delegation’s expenses would be met by the state even though the governor funded his own trip.

The nine-member delegation from the southwestern state of the US included the secretaries of the Department of Agriculture Miley Gonzalez, Cultural Affairs Stuart Ashman, the Administration and Finance, Katherine Miller, and Gilbert Gallegos, deputy chief of staff of the governor besides Richardson. Albeit the mission is to promote agricultural trade between both states, there is great optimism among the pro US-Cuba lobby that Richardson would be achieving a coup of sorts in welding closer ties with both countries.

In 1996, Richardson was instrumental in the release of three political prisoners after holding extensive negotiations with the former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro. He is a known advocate of reviewing the 50-year-old trade sanctions imposed by the US on Cuba. Speculation is rife that the governor who is supposed to be close to the US president Obama could be there in Cuba with a ‘dual purpose’ of exploring possibilities beyond selling just some agricultural produce.

In 2001, the US removed trade embargo on food and medicines, and since then Cuba has imported $4.4bn worth of basic essentials from the US. Almost 80 percent of the food needs of about 11.5mn people of Cuba are met through imports, and a large portion of it comes from the neighbouring US.

New Mexico is among the 10 top producers of cheese and pecans in the US, and is the nation's top producer of pepper. The trip is largely aimed at selling its agricultural produce including wheat, beans, potatoes and apples, and also beef in the Cuban markets.

By Jose Roy

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