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HAVANA (Reuters) - California, the top U.S. food producing state, has sent its first official agricultural trade mission to communist Cuba, looking to tap a potential $180 million food market.
While other U.S. states have pushed ahead in selling Cuba an average $350 million per year in agricultural products, mainly grains, California is a late arrival. Californian companies sold products worth just $735,000 to Cuba in 2006.
"Some of us might be a little late in getting here, but we are here," California Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura told reporters in Havana.
Kawamura is leading a delegation of companies seeking Cuban contracts for dairy products, wine, grapes, figs, nuts and other specialty fruits. So far, Cuba has bought powdered milk and rice from California, and some wine and apples.
U.S. food sales to Cuba were allowed in 2000 under an exception to the trade embargo Washington has maintained since 1962 against Fidel Castro's government.