HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba has purchased at least 30 million pounds (13 million kg) of U.S. chicken for delivery in October, traders told Reuters, ending a two-month suspension that Cuba attributed to a bird flu epidemic affecting the U.S. poultry industry.
A letter emailed in June to traders from Alimport, the Communist-run country’s food importer, said Cuba would not accept bids for delivery of chicken in August and September, “taking into account the animal health situation.”
Alimport has not publicly commented on the issue and did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters to confirm the lifting of the ban.
Cuba is allowed to purchase U.S. agricultural goods for cash under a 2000 exception to the trade embargo.
U.S. chicken exports to Cuba totaled $147.5 million in 2014, according to the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, which monitors the trade.
Chicken accounts for about half of U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba, which are down about 40 percent this year, the council said.
The United States is dealing with its worst outbreak of bird flu on record. More than 50 million chickens, turkeys and other birds were culled by August of this year.
This is not the same avian influenza virus that has caused human infections in Africa, Asia and Europe.
Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Bill Rigby