Cuba To Export Charcoal to USA in Lead-up to Trump

Scott Gilbert, president of the US company Coabana Trading LLC and Isabel O’Reilly, director of CubaExport, sign the agreement allowing for the export of Cuban charcoal to the United States. Photo: Ladyrene Pérez / Cubadebate.cu.

HAVANA TIMES – Charcoal will be the first product that Cuba exports to the United States in more than 50 years, thanks to an agreement signed today between the state-owned Cuba Export company and the US-based Coabana Trading LLC, dpa reported.

“This will be a first contract, but we hope to continue our relationships for many years and not just with charcoal, but with other products that we have ready to export like honey and coffee,” said Isabel O’Reilly, director of CubaExport.

Coabana Trading LLC president Scott Gilbert said the agreement “means another plank in the construction of the bridge between the United States and Cuba.”

The first shipment of 40 tons will arrive in the United States on January 18, just two days before the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States.

The agreement opens the doors of the United States market to Cuba for the first time in more than half a century, in moments of uncertainty about the policy that Trump will take toward the island.

“We look forward to working with the new government just as we have done with Barack Obama,” Gilbert told the official Cubadebate website.

Coal is obtained from marabou, an invasive bush all too common throughout the island.  It has even been a subject of speeches by Cuban President Raul Castro, who has used it as a sign of the decline of agriculture in the country.  Now the marabou becomes an export product.

Currently, four Cuban companies export between 40 and 80 thousand tons of charcoal each year to more than five countries, especially in the European market.

Despite the laws of Washington’s trade embargo on Havana, measures taken by the Obama administration opened the possibility of exporting some Cuban products to the US market, provided they were shown not to come from the state sector.

Havana has repeatedly criticized the fact that some of the permitted products such as tobacco and rum, which are the star products of the Cuban economy, are excluded from the list of permitted products.

  • Cigar Afficionado

    I sincerely hope that the Cuban cigars and rum get added to the list of permitted products. :)

  • Moses Patterson

    There is some irony to the coincidence that after 56 years of Cuban embargo, the first official export from Cuba to the US is charcoal. Particularly when you understand that charcoal production is a real-life example of “making lemonade out of lemons”. The maribou scrub brush is an invasive plant which is overrunning Cuban agricultural lands due to understand and poor cultivation. It’s very cheap, dirty, and requires only basic labor to produce.

    • Nick

      Look what is happening get in your country right now.
      You have a Russian stooge on his way to The White House!
      And yet you still have the audacicity to criticise Cube ??
      Get with the real world.

      • Moses Patterson

        I agree with you regarding what is going on here in the United States. But, the political disaster in the US, like the “price of rice in China” has nothing to do with the topic of this article. Cuba, for lack of criticism taken seriously, is in the condition it is in. That, Nick, is the real world.

      • Rich Haney

        Nick, the anti-Cuba zealots and benefactors could care less about how their extreme efforts to hurt Cubans on the island actually hurts the United States even more. Americans who don’t comprehend that are either proselytized idiots or intimidated cowards. The rest of the world…not so propagandized or intimidated…votes 191-to-0 in the UN to oppose such assaults on innocent Cubans and on democracy. The extremists on U. S. soil should be held accountable for being responsible for creating the only thing in a very diverse world that can garner unanimity of opinion regarding an adamant condemnation. If Moses could address that, his repetitive ubiquitousness in this forum would be a lot more convincing, wouldn’t it?