Alabama Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks has announced over $23 million in trade deals between state businesses and Cuba’s import company Alimport.

The agreements are the results of the continuous trade negotiations between Alabama suppliers and Cuban officials. State agricultural officials and business representatives made up Alabama’s delegation who, along with four other states, participated in the 23rd Havana International Fair that included products from over 100 countries. Alabama contracts included poultry and poultry products as well as wooden utility poles.

“This trade fair turned out to be a big success for Alabama’s farmers,” said Commissioner Sparks. “Our poultry and timber industry have done an especially remarkable job. The Department of Agriculture and Industries will continue to help support all of our agricultural growers and producers increase their exports to Cuba and around the world.”

These commodity contracts represent sales from Alabama companies. Most all of Alabama’s poultry integrators send products to Cuba. Present at this recent fair were representatives from Goldkist, PECO Foods, Sylvest Farms, Pilgrims Pride and Wayne Farms.

Utility poles are being sourced from several southwest Alabama manufacturers. Northern Gulf Trading Group, first time trade fair participants from Mobile, had contracts signed for sales of wooden utility poles. Significant quantities of both poles and poultry are shipped from the Alabama State Port Authority in Mobile on a monthly basis.

The United States is the only country to restrict exports to Cuba. In 2001, the U.S. federal government lifted the ban on sales of food and medicine. Since then, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has worked tirelessly to increase the amount of Alabama products sold to the island nation. Having less than two days shipping time from the Port of Mobile, Alabama has greatly benefited from it’s prime location, quality products, and open dialogue with Cuban buyers.

Last year Alabama saw an economic impact from trade with Cuba of over $300 million. Poultry exports from Alabama have risen 328 percent, with an estimated 40 percent of all poultry sold to Cuba being sourced from Alabama. Utility poles imported by Cuba over the last two years have almost exclusively been sourced from Alabama.

This year, due to increasing restrictions imposed by the U.S. federal government, which makes exporting to Cuba somewhat more difficult, Alabama companies must continue an aggressive sales profile to further expand sales to this market of 11 million people.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is also involved in trade explorations in Europe, Canada, Central and South America, Asia, the Caribbean, Africa and will focus on India for the upcoming year.