Alabama officials: Lift trade embargo on Cuba

NBC Mobile, Ala.

By: Modupe Idowu

MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) — A group of state and local leaders are pushing Congress to lift the travel and trade embargo on Cuba. They are joining a non-profit group and launched 'Engage Cuba Alabama State Council'. Officials said Alabama, especially the Port City, could bring in millions of dollars through trade with Cuba.

"We need to expand our global market place," said Senator Vivian Figures.

State lawmakers passed a resolution calling on Congress to lift the travel and trade embargo along with other trade barriers.

"They need our products," said Senator J.T. Waggoner. "We have the ability to send them our products."

According to Bloomberg, 80% of Cuba's food is imported. It's estimated the island spends $2 billion a year. One of Cuba's top imports is poultry. A report revealed the island nation spent $80 million on poultry.

It's a lucrative opportunity for the state of Alabama and the Port City.

"It's [poultry] a huge business in Alabama," said Johnny Adams, CEO, Alabama Poultry & Egg Association. "We produce about 17 million chickens a week. We need to send them somewhere."

Currently, the state trades some agricultural and medical goods with Cuba. However, the goal is to open the doors to more Alabama companies to export everything from building and farming materials to technology.

"You take that back and forth trade. It 's jobs," said Mayor Sandy Stimpson. "It comes down to jobs."

State and local officials and business leaders are now launching Engage Cuba Alabama State Council in hopes of change.

"We're not asking for overnight rapid change. We are asking for common-sense, incremental things that are in our interests and the people of Alabama," said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba.

Officials said the lift of the trade embargo would help create jobs for millions of people in Cuba, especially small farmers.