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Sales of U.S. agricultural goods to Cuba show steep decline

U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba fell 35 percent in the first five months of this year compared with the same period in 2009, largely because of the island's shortage of hard currency, according to a recent report.

The report by the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, a New York-based group that monitors bilateral trade, showed U.S. sales to Cuba from January to May of this year hit $182 million, compared with $278 million for the same period last year.

U.S. exports to Cuba already had seen a 24 percent drop in 2009 -- $528 million, compared with 2008, when they hit a record of $710 million, according to the report issued Tuesday.

Cuba imports an estimated 60 to 80 percent of all the food its 11 million people consume, but its U.S. purchases must be paid in cash because U.S. laws bar giving credit to the island.

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