Illinois agriculture is likely find an enthusiastic customer in Cuba, but it may require opening an Illinois-connected office in the country.
On a trip to Cuba this week, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-East Moline) says she repeatedly requested to open an office for the Illinois Cuba Working Group in Havana. It may lay a foundation relationships for Illinois agricultural products to be sold in Cuba, and Bustos says it would give Illinois an advantage over other states in this new market.
“We’re the first that has asked from a statewide perspective,” Bustos said. “Literally every leader I met, I made that ask personally.”
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Bustos says her takeaway from the trip, in which U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) also participated, is there’s a lot of interest in Cuba in Illinois products, particularly soybeans, but translating that into commerce means building “deeper relationships.”
One way Congress can help, Bustos says, is finding a way to allow Cubans to make purchases on credit, not in cash, which she hopes will lead to Cubans buying equipment from two companies based in her district: Caterpillar and John Deere.