HAVANA, CUBA – Earlier this month, USA Rice participated in the annual International Fair of Havana (FIVAH) to showcase U.S. rice and meet with Alimport, the importer of U.S. food products into Cuba. Several media outlets interviewed the USA Rice team about our participation and work in Cuba over the past few years.
“The outlook for 2018 rice imports is quite difficult since Cuba hasn’t imported rice from the U.S. in many years,” said Jorge Mendez Mantilla, General Manager of Alimport. “The main reason continues to be the unavailability of credit.”
Cuba currently imports primarily from Brazil, Guyana, Argentina, and Vietnam, who have been offering favorable credit terms and good rice quality.
“We have exhibited at this trade show since 2001, when we were the first U.S. agricultural group to do so,” said Betsy Ward, president and CEO of USA Rice. “While we continue to make outreach for eventual rice sales to Cuba, we are disheartened by recent U.S. regulations that appear to stymie progress.”
Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Cuba’s Foreign Minister, underscored the deterioration in relations between the United States and Cuba during a session with U.S. business representatives, including USA Rice, last week in Washington, DC. Minister Rodriguez noted that the closure of counselor offices in both countries’ embassies, current U.S. government warnings about travel to Cuba, and new regulations restricting travel and trade with certain Cuban entities are moving the bilateral relationship backwards.