Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Port of Alabama signs agreement with Cuba that Florida ports can't

Alabama came to Tampa on Thursday to sign an agreement with Cuba.

The seaport in Mobile and Cuba's National Port Authority pledged to find ways to expand the business they do with each other — the kind of deal that three ports in Florida had worked toward until Gov. Rick Scott last week scuttled them with a threat to pull their funding.

Alabama State Port Authority CEO James Lyons said the timing was coincidental. The memorandum of understanding had been planned for at least three months. Tampa was convenient since both parties would be here.

The occasion Thursday was an international conference called "Planning for Shifting Trade," sponsored by the American Association of Port Authorities at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina.

Some U.S. exports to Cuba — such as agricultural products and food — already are allowed as exceptions to the trade embargo imposed more than 50 years ago after the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro embraced communism.

Nothing is shipped to Cuba out of Tampa today.

Mobile ranks fifth among U.S. ports in exports to Cuba, said John Kavulich of the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, but still sent just 47,024 tons to the island in 2016. Working with Cuba is mostly about potential, not the present, Kavulich said.

That future may lie in the Mariel Economic Special Development Zone. Less than 50 miles from Havana, the zone has Cuba's largest container port and may grow into a shipment hub for the Caribbean.

"On this occasion, it was not possible to sign the MOUs with the ports in Florida," said Ana Teresa Igarza, director of Mariel. "The authorities of the ports we visited indicated interest to sign this agreement in the future."

Cuba now has five agreements with U.S. ports. This was the first signed in the U.S.

Port Tampa Bay, Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades and Port of Palm Beach had planned to sign memorandums of understanding similar to Mobile's during visits to their cities by a delegation from Cuba.

Igarza said Port Tampa Bay decided against signing a memorandum Jan. 20, five days before Gov. Scott issued his funding threat in a series of tweets. Scott followed up in the 2017 budget he submitted this week with a provision denying state money for port infrastructure projects that expand for trade with Cuba.

Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

Port of Alabama signs agreement with Cuba that Florida ports can't 02/02/17 [Last modified: Thursday, February 2, 2017 8:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs-Bills journal: Breakout game for Bucs tight end O.J. Howard

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It's obscured by the final score and a disappointing loss, but Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game Sunday, exceeding his season totals for catches and touchdowns in one afternoon.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) celebrates a touchdown catch with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  2. Vladislav Namestnikov is Lightning's top-line 'secret'

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov is piling up the goals. Steven Stamkos is an assist machine. They make for an impressive pairing in a league that favors scoring pairs over the more traditional three-player scoring lines.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) reacts after scoring during the third period of the game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.
  3. Bucs-Bills report card: Grading the Bucs' 30-27 loss at Buffalo

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Hard to believe, but this was only the second time in their history that the Bucs played a regular-season game in Buffalo. After Sunday loss, they wouldn't mind going another 40 years without playing here again.

    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, seen during the first half, had a heck of a day calling plays, Tom Jones writes. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Passing motorists pull three from burning home in Tampa

    News

    TAMPA — Two men in a passing car rescued two children and a woman from a burning home late Sunday morning.

  5. Bucs-Bills: Social media reactions to the Bucs' 30-27 loss

    Bucs

    Here's a sampling of reactions from the media and fans to the Bucs' 30-27 loss Sunday at Buffalo:

    Buffalo Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka (4) is mobbed by teammates after kicking the game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]