UPDATE... (first published 5 January 2017)
Who Benefits From Charcoal Imports From Cuba? State of Florida, FedEx Among Others...
40 metric tons (88,185 pounds) of charcoal, at US$420.00 per ton, for a total value of US$16,800.00, made from the invasive woody plant marabu (sicklebush) will be exported from the Republic of Cuba and delivered to Port Everglades in Broward County, Florida, on 18 January 2017 in two (20) twenty-foot containers by Jacksonville, Florida-based Crowley Liner Services (2016 revenues exceeded US$2 billion). The wholesale price for the charcoal is approximately US$360.00 per ton.
The charcoal is reported as clean-burning; often used in pizza ovens and bread ovens.
The transaction does not require a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury and/or Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the United States Department of Commerce. The importer must provide documentary evidence upon entry to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that the product was produced by "independent Cuban entrepreneurs."
2,672 bags of the charcoal will be marketed to restaurants and sold online to consumers for US$45.95 (free shipping) per 33-pound bag (US$.72 per pound) under the brand name "Fogo" by Hialeah, Florida-based Fogo Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal (www.fogocharcoal.com). The gross revenues from the sales will be approximately US$122,778.40.
Memphis, Tennessee-based FedEx (2016 revenues approximately US$50 billion), could earn gross revenues of approximately US$32,064.00 if all 2,672 bags were shipped using its services. Fogo Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal uses FedEx.
Charcoal sales are exempt from sales tax in the State of Florida, so neither the state nor Miami-Dade County will receive any revenue.
In 2016, charcoal sales in the United States were approximately US$737 million. The state of Missouri is the largest source of charcoal in the United States.
The charcoal is produced by worker-owned cooperatives throughout the Republic of Cuba and has been reportedly exported to six countries; opportunities are being sought in Germany and in the United Kingdom. Approximately 40,000 metric tons to 80,000 metric tons, valued at US$14,400,00.00 to US$28,800,00.00, of marabu charcoal are exported from the Republic of Cuba on an annual basis.
Madrid, Spain-based Ibecosol S.L. (Ibérica de Combustibles Sólidos) has provided production and export assistance to the Republic of Cuba since 2007 at facilities located in the provinces of Ciego de Avila and Jobabo. The company exports more than 10,000 metric tons annually, less than optimal 25,000 metric tons annually.
The charcoal is sold by cooperatives to a local packager, which sells it on to Republic of Cuba government-operated CubaExport. The local packager and CubaExport each take a 1% to 2% commission, according to Ms. Isabell O'Reilly, General Director of CubaExport. The export contract was signed by Ms. Aurelio Mollineda, Director of Republic of Cuba government-operated Gecomex, a subsidiary of CubaExport.
Other Republic of Cuba government-operated companies engaged in the production of charcoal including Empresa de Flora y Fauna, Corporacion Cimex, Citricos Caribes, and Alcona.
Products of privately-operated or cooperative farms in the Republic of Cuba are authorized by the United States government for export to the United States.
In 2016, coffee was the first agricultural commodity authorized by the United States government for importation from the Republic of Cuba: http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2016/6/20/nespresso-to-indirectly-import-coffee-from-cuba-to-usa?rq=nespresso
CubaExport reports that it hopes to add honey to authorized exports to the United States.