Friday, March 31, 2017

Port of Seattle hopes to help out Cuban ports

Port of Seattle hopes to help out Cuban ports
Glenn Farley, KING 7:30 PM. PDT March 30, 2017

As Cuba develops its ports, the Port of Seattle hopes to be a role model.

In January, Port of Seattle commissioners and its then chief executive
met with Cuban transportation officials in Havana. The occasion was the
opening of the first direct west coast service to Cuba by SeaTac based
Alaska Airlines.

"I think there's a real opportunity to bring executives from Cuba to
Port of Seattle to learn best practices, to learn about the airport, the
seaport, and the cruise business," said Port Commissioner Stephanie
Bowman. "A little known fact people don't really recall...Cuba was the
number one importer of peas and lentils before the embargo."

The Port of Seattle considers itself to be unique with a cargo seaport,
cruise ship terminals, and a large airport all under one government
entity. The Port of Seattle says it can offer help and guidance in any
one of those areas.

"They're looking to becoming a major trans shipment point for the
Caribbean. And that's where we can offer our expertise, on the marine
cargo side of the business," Bowman said.

"They're in a very tough place. They're dying for foreign investment,"
said Commissioner Fred Felleman, who was also on the trip. "They want to
open their doors, and we want to help them do that. Meanwhile, they
don't have the infrastructure in place to absorb that crush."

The crush Felleman and many Cubans are concerned about is what if the
nearly six decade old series of economic embargoes placed on the
regime of Fidel Castro were to quickly go away and open the island's
economy to an on rush of American tourists. Politically, the U.S. and
Cuba have been on opposite poles since the 1959 communist revolution,
even though the island is just 90 miles away from Florida.

Felleman, a longtime Seattle-based environmentalist, particularly in the
area of marine mammals, says the Port of Seattle's environmental
initiatives could help the Cubans manage that impact.

"Sustainable development is the only way these guys can prosper for the
long haul," Felleman said. "I think they understand they have something
very special. The question is, can they get in front of the curve?"

In 2014, relations between Cuba and the United States grew closer with
the re-establishment of embassies in both capitals and installations of
ambassadors. The so called "embargo," which is actually a series of
sanctions, is still in place, but with special permissions and licensing
arrangements issued by the U.S. government. There has been growing
levels of business interaction with Cuba.

Now, what will the new administration of President Donald Trump do?
Thus far, the administration has said little about Cuba other than
it's being studied. During the campaign, candidate Trump made statements
that ranged from vowing to undo the Obama administration's opening to
saying that 50 years of sanctions was enough.

Source: Port of Seattle hopes to help out Cuban ports | -

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