Trade Development: New Orleans, Philadelphia

Port of New Orleans Signs MOU with Cuba Pledging Joint Efforts to Expand Trade and Commerce

Port of New Orleans Chief Operating Officer Brandy Christian joined Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in signing a memorandum of understanding with Cuba on October 4 pledging to expand trade and commerce opportunities between Louisiana and the Caribbean nation. The agreement also calls for joint marketing and information sharing efforts to meet those objectives. Signing for Cuba was Manuel Fernandez Perez Guerra of the National Port Administration.

"The proximity and historical relationship between Cuba and the Port of New Orleans has us well-positioned should the trade embargo be lifted, and we are prepared to play an important role in trade when the time comes," said Ms. Christian. "We look forward to working closely with Cuban ports and trade authorities to grow opportunities and nurture long-standing relationships that will be mutually beneficial. In the meantime, we will continue to efficiently handle those products that can be legally shipped to Cuba, often by Louisiana-based companies."

New Orleans port officials visited Havana October 3-7 as part of a 50-member delegation headed by that also included Gov. Edwards, Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson and other state, regional, local, educational and private business leaders. The schedule included meetings with the Cuban ministers of trade, agriculture and foreign affairs.

"There remains much work to be done before our nation’s embargo on broader trade with Cuba is lifted. However, there are new opportunities that can benefit Louisiana, and I am optimistic that we will be able to build on our existing trade partnership with Cuba following this bipartisan visit," said Gov. Edwards. "We want Louisiana to be first in line to any new opportunities with Cuba, particularly the import, export and foreign direct investment possibilities that could range into the billions of dollars in the coming years. For those reasons, we are eager to embark on this trade mission and to place Louisiana in a unique position of leadership with respect to Cuba."

The Port of New Orleans participated actively in the Cuba trade prior to the trade embargo imposed in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy. During the embargo, the port participated in trade missions to Cuba. Since 2010, the port has loaded more than 100,000 pounds of poultry for export to Cuba under a special waiver by the U.S. government. During the past decade, Louisiana exported goods to Cuba worth more than $1.4 billion.

The port also sees itself as "well-positioned for cruise travel to Cuba as tourism becomes more relaxed between the U.S. and Cuba."

"We see a huge opportunity for cruise lines to add itineraries between New Orleans to Havana," said Ms. Christian. "There’s always been a connection between Cuba and New Orleans, and we’re more than prepared to resume that relationship culturally and economically."

Manuel Fernandez Perez Guerra, director general of the National Port Administration of Cuba, and Brandy Christian, chief operating officer of the Port of New Orleans sign a memorandum of understanding in Havana Oct. 4. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (standing directly behind Ms. Christian) and Michael Kearney, chairman of the Port of New Orleans Board of Commissioners (standing front right), were among the 50-member Louisiana trade delegation that visited Cuba Oct. 3-7.
Photo/Port of New Orleans

Port of Philadelphia Receives First U.S. Imports of Fresh Brazilian Beef

The Hamburg Süd containership Monte Aconcagua discharged the first U.S. imports of Brazilian fresh beef October 13-14 from at Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in the Port of Philadelphia.

Greenwich Terminals, LLC, operates the terminal under a lease agreement with the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA).

The event followed a recent determination by the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service that fresh Brazilian beef, whether chilled or frozen, complies with its standards for quality and safety and can be imported into the United States.

This initial shipment consisted of frozen beef shipment from JBS, one of a handful of private firms approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the sale and handling of the product. The port is expecting about 3,000 tons of Brazilian beef per month. The cargo will be loaded at Porto Itapoá in the southeastern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina and transported to Philadelphia on Hamburg Süd vessels.

The imported beef will be used as frozen pizza topping and mixed with fattier domestic beef to produce a leaner product for the U.S. market.

"I’m pleased that we, as a port community, were able to work effectively with Greenwich Terminals, trade interests like the Meat Importers Council of America, and others to help bring this cargo to the Port," said PRPA Chief Executive Jeff Theobald. "It’s proof positive that Philadelphia is a leader in the handling of refrigerated cargoes, and this is certainly a significant cargo that we will need to handle efficiently as we work to grow the port’s cargo volumes to new levels."

America’s beef trade is substantial, consisting in 2015 of imports amounting to 1.1 million tons worth $6.2 billion and exports totaling 716,000 tons valued at $5.2 billion, according to data reported by PRPA.

Hamburg Süd’s Monte Aconcagua in Brazil preparing to transport the first cargo of U.S.-bound Brazilian beef to the Port of Philadelphia
Photo/ Hamburg Süd