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Cuba No. 3 importer of American rice after Mexico, Japan
The Miami Herald
HAVANA - Under an exception to a U.S. trade embargo, communist Cuba has become the third importer of American rice after Mexico and Japan, officials said Thursday.

Cuba bought 110,000 tons of rice this year from the United States, said Pedro Alvarez, chairman of Cuba's food import company Alimport, which signed a letter of intent Thursday to strengthen trade relations with the U.S. Rice Producers Association.

Dwight Roberts, president of the association, said Cuba could eventually surpass Mexico and Japan as America's main rice importer.

"I think that if economic relations continue heading in a positive direction, Cuba has the potential to import more than 550,000 tons of rice ... and take first place," Roberts said.

Cuba currently imports some 600,000 tons of rice a year, primarily from Vietnam and China.

Most trade between the United States and Cuba is prohibited under American sanctions in place more than four decades.

But a 2000 U.S. law created an exception to the embargo, allowing for the direct, commercial sales of American farm goods to Cuba on a cash basis. Cuba began buying American food under the law in late 2001.

Since 2001, Cuba has imported eggs, beans, corn, chicken and cattle worth some $955 million from the United States.
MGR Archive 10.10.2004
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
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