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Virginia explores ways to expand economic relations with Cuba

Published:Wednesday | January 6, 2016 | 12:00 AM
President of Cuba, Raúl Castro.

The governor of the US State of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, is exploring ways to expand economic

and commercial relations with Cuba.

McAuliffe, who is in Cuba on a political and commercial mission, also hopes to boost the export of agricultural products from Virginia to the Spanish-speaking island, promote closer links in maritime transportation, as well as higher education and culture.

The governor, who arrived there on Sunday, is scheduled to meet with Cuban Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca and will open a

business forum at a centrally located hotel.

Before departing the US for Cuba, the governor said the current mission will further enhance Virginia's position by expanding its agricultural exports and that he expects to open the doors to future collaboration in other sectors.

Virginia, with a population of eight million, has been a leader in maintaining relations with Havana since the US Congress approved the export of food to Cuba in 2000.

lift the obstacles

According to Agriculture Secretary Todd Haymore, US agricultural sales to Cuba reached about US$400 million over the past 10 years, including US$25 million in 2015.

According to a news release, Virginia's governor will reiterate the need for the US Congress

to take action to lift the obstacles to bilateral commercial relations.

He previously demanded the lifting of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba, since he considers that lifting the US unilateral policy will create jobs and open economic opportunities for Virginia-based companies, as well as for Cuban products that may be imported into the US.