Cuba has agreed to import more U.S. corn as part of a memorandum of understanding signed on Jan. 17 with the U.S. Grains Council and has expressed interest in continued imports of distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS).
Under the agreement, Cuba will buy 700,000 metric tons (27.5 million bushels) of U.S. corn in 2006. The value of the agreement is estimated at nearly $100 million based on recent corn prices. “This agreement represents a significant increase in the amount of U.S. corn Cuba intends to import this year over previous years,” said Davis Anderson, USGC chairman. “The Council's success in Cuba is very much in line with our work around the world to develop markets, enable trade and improve lives. As Cuba's tourism industry expands, its people are finding they have more money to buy meat, milk and eggs, thus driving the increased demand for feed grains.”
According to the Vice Minister for Foreign Trade in Cuba, the country's economy grew at a rate of 11.2 percent in 2005. U.S. corn imports to Cuba have risen every year since 2001, which marked the first time in 20 years that Cuba imported U.S. corn. The 700,000 tons established by the agreement with Alimport, Cuba's sole trade entity, is an increase of approximately 45 percent over 2004 imports of 484,000 tons (19 million bushels).
Cuban trade officials also indicated they would import 140,000 tons of DDGS in 2006. “Cuba is a growing market for U.S. feed grains,” noted Ken Hobbie, USGC president and CEO. “It was a very fruitful visit for the Council. We were able to learn more about their corn, sorghum and barley needs. We were also able to identify areas where they need technical support, such as in formulating livestock rations and using DDGS.”
As part of the memorandum, Alimport and the Council agreed to jointly work together to help expand Cuba/U.S. bilateral commerce and lift the current U.S. restriction that affects trade and travel with Cuba, a valuable market for U.S. food products.