The Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA) has signed a deal to co-operate with the National Port Administration of Cuba, opening the door a crack for potential future trade deals.
This five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) would allow the southeastern US state’s ports – principally the major port of Mobile – and the comparable authority for the communist island to, among other things, collaborate in promotion and exhibition activities and to share data.
With a little irony, the signing for the deal was done in Tampa in the state of Florida, Alabama’s southern neighbor. A week ago, Florida’s governor Rick Scott tweeted warnings to port authorities in his state that they should not sign MOUs with Cuba because of that nation’s lack of democracy and its human rights abuses.
In Alabama’s case, ASPA said it wants to foster good relations so that it will be well placed when the anticipated normalization of relations between the US and Cuba occurs. It also said there is “a mutual interest in facilitating trade growth”.
Tampa was site for the signing because its Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel was host venue for ASPA’s conference “Planning for Shifting Trade”.
This agreement is said to be the first Cuban ports agreement signed on US soil since 1959.
An initiative by former US President Barack Obama in December 2014 started a thaw in relations between the US and Cuba after 50 years of tension and trade embargoes resulting from Cuba’s communist revolution and the Cold War.
On January 24, a Crowley Maritime containership delivered a cargo of charcoal to Port Everglades in Florida. It was the first legal commercial shipment from Cuba to the US in more than 50 years.