Cuba May Purchase Eggs From The United States
July 7, 2008 - 8:11 PM
(CNSNews.com) - The Castro government may purchase approximately ten million eggs sometime next year from a United States-based company, marking the first time Cuba has ever imported eggs, the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council said Monday.
In its weekly newsletter, the Council said the eggs would likely be transported in refrigerated containers from the United States to Cuba.
Such a purchase would cost the Castro government around $600,000 in United States dollars.
The Council believes Cuba's egg production has declined because of a decrease in the availability of chicken feed.
"During the last six months in the city of Havana," the council said, "eggs have generally been available in government- operated U.S.-dollars retail stores; however, eggs remain available to accredited members of the diplomatic corps in Cuba for $1.20 (U.S.) for twelve eggs."
Almost two weeks ago, Cuban leader Fidel Castro told a visiting American delegation that he planned to purchase a second shipment of food from the United States.
Castro told the delegation he wanted to buy food and agricultural products, as long as the United States government remained flexible on granting licenses to American firms that want to do business with the Castro government.
Last December, Cuba bought $35 million dollars' worth of wheat, soybeans, rice and corn from the U.S. after its own crops were devastated by Hurricane Michelle.
At the time, Castro government officials said there would be no more food purchases from the U.S. unless the Bush administration relaxed the longstanding U.S. trade embargo.
However, after a lengthy meeting this week with Castro, an American delegation said Cuba had dropped its demands.
"We were advised by President Castro that there is still a need for a humanitarian product. He indicated he would like to re-establish the reserves to help them recover from Hurricane Michelle and also to help in case of future emergency situations," said Jim Summer, president of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Export Council.
According to Summer, Castro also said that if the remaining limitations on licenses to sell food to Cuba were lifted, U.S. trade eventually could account for more than half the island's food supply.
The Cuban-American National Foundation remains totally opposed to food shipments to Cuba from the United States.
"Fidel Castro stands to gain everything in exchange for absolutely nothing, because he is not creditworthy from a strictly economic point of view," said Mariela Ferretti, a spokesperson for the Cuban-American National Foundation. "On top of that, he has a morally bankrupt regime that the United States should not be doing business with."
President Bush has repeatedly said he will not lift the economic embargo against Cuba until Castro frees all political prisoners and allows free and fair elections.
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