Maine Congressional Delegation Silent On Cuba Seafood Imports; Vocal To Obtain Flight Servicing Agreement For Bangor Airport

Maine Congressional Delegation

The Honorable Susan Collins (R)
The Honorable Angus King (I)

The Honorable Chellie Pingree (D)
The Honorable Bruce Poliquin (R)

The four members of the tri-partisan (D, I, R) Congressional delegation representing the State of Maine have not answered inquiries about whether they will support the Obama Administration adding seafood to the list of products authorized for commercial importation from the Republic of Cuba to the United States.

In April 2016, the United States Department of State added coffee to the list of authorized products that may be imported from the Republic of Cuba to the United States for commercial purposes.  Textiles (with sourcing restrictions) may also be imported for commercial purposes.

There is an expectation that the Obama Administration will add to the list of authorized (with sourcing restrictions) products before 20 January 2017, perhaps to include tropical fruits, charcoal, sugar, honey, alcohol, and seafood.  All imports will result in competitive challenges for United States-based producers.

In July 2016, Bangor International Airport (BGR) in Maine received a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury to provide services for non-United States aircraft seeking to make non-traffic transit stops (re-fueling, catering, deicing, crew services).  

Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Poliquin introduced and supported legislation that would permit all airports in the United States to provide the services authorized by the OFAC for BGR.  The legislation has yet to become law.

There is a challenge for Members of Congress who support the removal of restrictions upon United States exports (and provision of services) relating to the Republic of Cuba- that imports (products and services) from the Republic of Cuba to the United States impact the interests of companies located in their respective states/districts who have a concern about imports disrupting their domestic (and export) market share. 

With additional revenues from exports, the Republic of Cuba becomes a stronger competitor to United States companies competing for the same export markets. 

At the same time, the more exports from the Republic of Cuba to the United States and other countries, there is potential for an increase in imports from the United States.

Support in the United States Congress for the removal of restrictions on exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba is often from states whose companies will not meaningfully be impacted by competition from imports from the Republic of Cuba to the United States.

Empresa Comercial Caribex (Caribex) of Cuba

"We have more than 40 years of exporting activity,  offering a wide variety of Cuban seafood products, with international well-known quality. Our products reach important markets such as: European Union, Japan, Australia, Vietnam, and Canada among others." 

Primary markets for spiny-lobster are Japan, France, Spain, Italy and Canada.  Caribex revenues in 2015 were approximately US$70 million (approximately US$12 million from farm-raised shrimp) through the use of approximately thirty-four processing facilities located throughout the Republic of Cuba.  In 1994, revenues were approximately US$102 million and in 1997 were approximately US$180 million.  Lack of investment, resources, and depleted fishing stocks have contributed to revenue decreases. 

Caribex reported that significant customers include Redondela, Spain-based Pescafina and Pescanova; and Japan-based Marua Michiru.

Fresh Product:
Spiny lobster, live.
Fresh fish (including eel, shark fins, sea cucumber) and fillets.
Natural Sponges.

Frozen Product:
Frozen precooked whole lobster.
Frozen raw whole lobster.
Frozen raw lobster tail.
Frozen raw head-on shrimp (wild and cultured shrimp)
Blue Crab.
Sea snails (strombus gigas)
Sea Cucumber (dried).

Value Added Product:
Frozen cooked shrimp (PUD-IQF) (P&D-IQF).
Frozen raw shrimp tail (PUD-IQF). (wild and cultured shrimp)
Frozen precooked lobster, in halves.

Brand Names:
Caribbean Queen

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