Posts

Russia’s largest carmaker plans to deliver 300 Lada cars to CubaHAVANA, March 16th  Russia’s largest carmaker plans to deliver 300 Lada cars to Cuba, said the company’s president Nicolas Maure, speaking at an AvtoVAZ Read more

HAVANA, Jan. 27th Term-limited Florida Gov. Rick Scott has found a new hobby horse: Cuba.

First, there was the post-presidential election, post-Fidel death letter to Raúl Castro in December asking the Cuban leader to “allow a new era of Read more

HAVANA, Feb 9th  (Thomson Reuters Foundation) L ong known for its cigars and rum, Cuba has added organic honey to its list of key agricultural exports, creating a buzz among farmers as pesticide use has been linked to declining bee populations elsewhere.

Organic honey has become Cuba’s fourth most valuable agricultural export behind fish products, tobacco and drinks, but ahead of the Caribbean island’s more famous sugar and coffee, said Theodor Friedrich, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) representative for Cuba.

“All of (Cuba’s) honey can be certified as organic,” Friedrich told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Its honey has a very specific, typical taste; in monetary value, it’s a high ranking product.”

After the collapse in 1991 of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s main trading partner, the island was unable to afford pesticides due to a lack of foreign currency, coupled with the U.S. trade embargo. By necessity, the government embraced organic agriculture, and the policies have largely stuck.

Now that the United States is easing its embargo following the restoration of diplomatic ties last year, Cuba’s organic honey exporters could see significant growth if the government supports the industry, bee keepers said.

Cuba produced more than 7,200 tonnes of organic honey in 2014, worth about $23.3 million, according to government statistics cited by the FAO.

The country’s industry is still tiny compared with honey heavyweights such as China, Turkey and Argentina. But with a commodity worth more per liter than oil, Cuban honey producers believe they could be on the cusp of a lucrative era.

BIG DREAMS, LITTLE CASH
With 80 boxes swarming with bees, each producing 45 kg (100 lb) of honey per year, farm manager Javier Alfonso believes Cuba’s exports could grow markedly in the coming years.

His apiary, down a dirt track in San Antonio de los Banos, a farming town an hour’s drive from the capital Havana, was built from scratch by employees, Alfonso said.

“There is just a bit of production now, but it can get bigger,” he said, looking at the rows of colorful wooden boxes.

Like other Cuban bee farmers, he sells honey exclusively to the government, which pays him according to the world market price and then takes responsibility for marketing the product overseas.

Most of Cuba’s honey exports go to Europe, he said. He would like to be able to borrow money to expand production, but getting credit is difficult, he said, so for now his team of farmers build their own infrastructure for the bees.

“It’s a very natural environment here,” said Raul Vasquez, a farm employee. “The government is not allowed to sell us chemicals – this could be the reason why the bees aren’t dying here” as they have been in other places.

ORGANIC ADVANTAGE
While Cuba’s small, organic honey industry aims to reap the rewards of increased trade with the United States, honey producers in other regions are under threat, industry officials said.

Bee keepers in the United States, Canada and other regions have long complained that pesticides are responsible for killing their bees and hurting the honey industry more broadly.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a study in January indicating that a widely-used insecticide used on cotton plants and citrus groves can harm bee populations.

“I don’t think there are any doubts that populations of honey bees (in the United States and Europe) have declined… since the Second World War,” Norman Carreck, science director of the U.K.-based International Bee Research Association told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Climate change, fewer places for wild bees to nest, shifts in land use, diseases and pesticides are blamed for the decline, he said.

Because it is pesticide free, Cuba’s organic bee industry could act as protection from the problems hitting other honey exporters, said the FAO’s Friedrich, and could be a growing income stream for the island’s farmers.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3438700/Cubas-organic-honey-exports-create-buzz-bees-die-elsewhere.html#ixzz3zhP30JFu

norteamericano-John-Kerry-Habana-reapertura_LNCIMA20151208_0167_5

El secretario de Estado norteamericano, John Kerry (centro), recorrió un sector de La Habana el 14 de agosto del 2015, luego de asistir a la reapertura de la embajada de su país. ARCHIVO (AP)

HAVANA, Jan. 26th The Obama administration announced regulatory changes Tuesday to further ease travel and trade restrictions in Cuba.

Starting Wednesday, the Treasury and Commerce departments said U.S. airlines will be authorized to engage with Cuban ones to facilitate trade; restrictions on payment and financing terms for authorized exports and re-exports to Cuba will be removed; a case-by-case licensing policy for exports and re-exports will be established; and certain types of travel will be added to existing authorized travel categories.

Tourist activities, however, remain prohibited, a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday.

The changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and Export Administration Regulations aim to further the president’s 2014 call for more normalized relations with Havana.

Under the new regulations, professional media or artistic productions will be allowed to travel to to Cuba to film or produce, a movie, television show, music video or other informational material and certain personnel operating or servicing a vessel or aircraft will be allowed to stay in Cuba to continue their work.

Travel will also be authorized to those organizing a professional meeting, conference, public performance, clinic, workshop, or athletic competition, and the list of authorized humanitarian projects will be expanded to include disaster preparedness and response.

In removing financing restrictions for authorized exports and re-exports, except agricultural commodities and agricultural items, the administration said U.S. depository institutions will be authorized to provide financing. Financing terms now are restricted to cash-in-advance or third-country financing.

As for exports and re-exports, the agencies said license applications will be approved for commodities and software going to human rights organizations and U.S. news bureaus in Cuba.

Telecommunication items to improve communications to, from and among the Cuban people; agricultural items like insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides; and items necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation and commercial aircrafts engaged in international transports will also be approved.

The administration said a case-by-case licensing policy will be created for exports and re-exports of items needed to meet the needs of the Cuban people.

“Today’s amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations build on successive actions over the last year and send a clear message to the world: the United States is committed to empowering and enabling economic advancements for the Cuban people,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a news release.

“We have been working to enable the free flow of information between Cubans and Americans and will continue to take the steps necessary to help the Cuban people achieve the political and economic freedom that they deserve.”

http://thehill.com/regulation/administration/267027-administration-to-further-ease-cuba-travel-and-trade-restrictions