Updated 02:23 AM EST, Wed, Jan 27, 2021

Cuba-U.S. Ties: Texas Governor Greg Abbott Heads to Cuba to Forge Trade Relations

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott will lead a state delegation to Cuba next week.

The three-day trip, which begins on Monday and will conclude on Dec. 2, comes just less than a year after United States President Barack Obama restored diplomatic and embassy relations with the communist country, the Texas Tribune reported. During the visit, Abbott will meet with officials from Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment, the Port of Mariel, Cuba's Chamber of Commerce, and two Cuban state companies, Cimex and Alimport.

"With a new era of eased trade and travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba - and as the 12th largest economy in the world - Texas has an opportunity to capitalize and expand its economic footprint at home and abroad," Abbott said in a statement issued on Tuesday, as quoted by the Texas Tribune. "Opening the door to business with Texas will expand free enterprise and the freedom that flows from it. I look forward to expanding business opportunities for both Texas and Cuba."

The state delegation is Abbott's second foreign trade trip; the first one was in Mexico in September, Statesman reported. Prior to Abbott, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo paid a visit to Cuba following the thawing of relations between the country and the U.S., KXAN noted.

KXAN reported that aside from trade, Abbott and the Cuban officials will also discuss tourism, investment, and agriculture. Rice farmers in Texas have exported their products to Cuba since the Clinton administration, but this was halted in 2008. Abbott hopes to increase exports in rice, grains, citrus, and beef to the country.

Abbott's trip is being paid for by TexasOne, a quasi-governmental agency that his predecessor, Rick Perry, launched in 2003 in an effort to fund the governor's promotional trips, the Texas Tribune noted. Abbott's office said that he will be bringing TexasOne CEO Tracye McDaniel on his visit to Cuba, along with a range of business and economic leaders.

Texas was a leading exporter to Cuba in the past, the news outlet wrote. Theirs was a quiet partnership that helped provide hundreds of jobs and millions in profits for the U.S. state. Even when the U.S. trade embargo was put into operation more than 50 years ago, Texas and Cuba's relationship went on for decades.

Texas' trade relations with Cuba is still legal under the provisions of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, which permits U.S. businesses to ship a limited amount of products to Cuba for revenues, the Texas Tribune added.

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