Louisiana and Cuba Are Natural Trading Partners: Mike Strain and Joe Accardo

Guest Column on NOLA.com & The Times-Picayune

While the Cuban government should ease regulations to allow the growth of U.S. companies investing there, the United States should open up trade with Cuba. Louisiana can be at the forefront of doing business with Cuba to take advantage of opportunities from more agricultural exports, trade that would benefit Louisiana's extensive port system and potential growth of the tourism and cruise industry.

When you're in New Orleans, you're twice as close to Havana as you are to New York City. Prior to the trade embargo, Louisiana had a flourishing trade relationship with Cuba through multiple state ports on the lower Mississippi River and Lake Charles, where most of our rice was exported. It would be beneficial to our state's economy to expand commerce with one of our closest neighbors and historic trading partners. Every day we don't expand trade with Cuba we are leaving money and opportunities on the table. Louisiana has a lot to gain from opening up trade – from our ports to our farms.

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