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Tampa and Cuba, partners in trade?

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Hola Mi amigos It is Jamaica Urban Legend here with a wonderful piece of news on the country of Cuba

Mickey Mouse might have as much of an impact on Tampa-Cuba relations as José Martí.

Before the embargo against the island-nation, Tampa and Cuba were major trading partners. Tampa primarily sent cattle and got tobacco.

Local leaders who favor normalizing relations are now pushing for a renewed trade relationship with Cuba. And they believe Port Tampa Bay has an edge over competing U.S. ports because of a century-old connection between Tampa and Cuba that includes the use of Ybor City by freedom fighter José Martí as a staging ground during his War of Independence against Spain in the 1890s.

Port Tampa Bay is indeed a preferred partner for Cubas Port of Mariel, according to a statement to the Tampa Bay Times by TC Mariel, the company that runs the container shipment operation there.

But access to Orlando is the reason, not any shared history, according to the statement, forwarded to the Times by TC Mariels managing director Charles Baker.

Orlando is coveted because it is a destination for tourists and home to many regional distribution hubs for inbound cargo that would prefer their containers land in nearby Tampa rather than Miami.

Even as the embargo endures, according to the TC Mariel statement, the Port of Mariel and Port Tampa Bay still can prosper from a relationship if Congress or the president repeals a separate federal rule — one prohibiting ships from any country that dock in Cuba from docking in the United States within 180 days.

Direct trade with Cuba would still be forbidden in the United States because of the embargo, but a repeal of the 180-day rule might allow other nations to send cargo to Tampa through Cuba.

That echoes what Baker recently told the U.S.-based global trade publication, the Journal of Commerce.

“If you allow transshipment to take place from Mariel to U.S. ports, you could open up service to Tampa, which is the closest port to Orlando,” Baker is quoted as saying.

This falls in line with efforts by Port Tampa Bay to market its facility as a gateway to Central Florida, made possible through the recent purchase of two giant gantry cranes to help grow cargo container business and by the states construction of the Interstate 4 Crosstown Connector that moves traffic quickly from the port to Interstate 4 and on to Orlando.

“Port Tampa Bay is Cuba-ready and we are open to any legal opportunities,” said Edward Miyagishima, the ports vice president of communications.

A delegation of Cubas port leaders is expected to visit Port Tampa Bay within the next few months.

Tampa-based international public relations firm Tucker/Hall will lead a separate delegation of local maritime officials to Cuba in October to speak with maritime counterparts there.

“If Mariel picks Tampa Bay as its priority entry point to the United States, it will be transformative for our region,” said Bill Carlson, the president of Tucker/Hall

Author: Ricardo – Jamaica

sourcphoto: pinterest

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