Cuba Makes Its First Export To The US In Half A Century / EFE, 14ymedio

A charcoal worker performs his work with the marabou in Cuba. (Alejandro Ernesto / EFE)

EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 20 January 2017 — Cuba sent two containers with 40 tons of charcoal to the United States in the first export of a product of the Caribbean island to the US in more than half a century.

This is the first shipment of charcoal made under the purchase agreement signed earlier this month between Cuba’s state-owned company Cubaexport and the US company Trading LLC, a subsidiary of Reneo Consulting.

The cargo of $16,800 worth of charcoal made from the invasive marabou weed was sent through the western Cuba Port of Mariel on a boat from the Crowley Latin America Services Company to the US Port Everglades in Florida, according to a report from Cubaexport in local media.

Filling the containers with 12,526 sacks of charcoal took place in the Jocuma settlement of the southern central province of Cienfuegos, one of the points in Cuba where the product is made, according to Cubanexport director Isabel O’Reilly.

With the commercial agreement signed last January in Havana, it is expected that coal made from marabou will now start to reach the US market through Fogo Charcoal, a subsidiary of the firm Susshi International.

This contract between Cuba and the US has entered into force as the governments of both nations accelerated the signing of bilateral agreements and visits to advance the process of the thaw between the two countries as far as possible before the arrival of Donald Trump to the White House, given that he is openly opposed to the policy undertaken by Barack Obama’s administration.

The outgoing leader has eased the embargo through a series of executive measures that have allowed, among other things, the reestablishment of commercial flights and investments in sectors such as technology, but the lifting of the embargo is in the hands of Congress, where there is a Republican majority opposed to doing so.

The Cuban charcoal route for export begins in private agricultural cooperatives that harvest and process marabou, a plant of African origin considered an invasive species on the island, and then sell it to another company that prepares it for final commercialization.

The company CubaExport is responsible for the sale, processing and shipping out of the country the coal, which is marketed by the companies Cimex, Cítricos Caribes and Alcona.

The leading Cuban company for the export of coal made from Marabou is Agroindustrial Ceballos, which in the last eleven years has produced 204,323 tonnes of this product for the international market, according to recently released figures.

Cuba annually exports about 80,000 tonnes, mainly to European countries and also to Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and Israel.

Marabou charcoal has a high energy power and is produced in handmade furnaces in a natural way; its production is not a cause of deforestation.