U.S. farm sales to Cuba most since 2000
By WILFREDO CANCIO ISLA
El Nuevo Herald
After two years of shrinkage, U.S. sales to Cuba of agricultural goods during 2007 bounced back to $437.7 million, the highest annual total since such sales were authorized in 2000.
The 2007 total represented a strong increase over the $340.4 million recorded in 2006 and the $350.2 million recorded in 2005, according to figures compiled by the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, a New York group that monitors bilateral trade.
The $437.7 million made Cuba the United States' 37th largest trading partner for the year, according to the council, which obtains its data from the U.S. government.
Since Washington first authorized such sales to Cuba as a humanitarian exemption to the U.S. trade embargo, Havana has bought nearly $2 billion in those goods from U.S. companies.
The Cuban government reported last month that it had bought $600 million in goods from U.S. companies in 2007. Cuba claims its figures include transportation, banking and other charges associated with the purchases, but the council's report notes that Havana's figures are ``suspect.''
Cuba has tried to use its U.S. purchases as a way of pushing U.S. providers to lobby Washington to ease trade sanctions on the island.