Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University, will participate May 29-June 1 in a delegation of Missourians, led by Gov. Jay Nixon, representing agriculture, business, education and government on a trade mission to Cuba.
With the recent progress toward normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, the trade mission will focus on growing Missouri exports to the island nation of 11 million, especially agricultural products.
The delegation will include First Lady Georganne Nixon, Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce and Missouri Department of Economic Development Director Mike Downing. Other members of the trade delegation include Gary Wheeler, of the Missouri Soybean Association; Silvia Hollis, of Mid-Continent Aircraft, Hayti; Thorstein Holt, of Holtec Gas Systems, Chesterfield; Brady Moses, of SatCommX, Lampe; Jeffrey Fort, of MOM Brands Sales, St. Louis; and several representatives of Martin Rice, of Bernie.
Vargas said he plans to visit with officials to pursue higher education partnerships in Cuba for collaboration on potential academic and research projects.
As part of the focus on Missouri exports, the Missouri delegation will visit the new deep-water port at Mariel, Cuba, which has expanded capacity to receive large cargo ships. Missouri products, particularly grain, often are transported down the Mississippi River by barge to the Gulf of Mexico and then to overseas markets by sea-going cargo ships.
In addition to meeting with Cuban government officials in Havana, Gov. Nixon will be briefed by Deputy Chief of Mission Scott Hamilton and other high-ranking officials at the U.S. Embassy on progress toward facilitating and increasing trade between the U.S. and Cuba. He is also scheduled to address an entrepreneurial forum coordinated by the Cuban Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Trade and Investment, which will include Cuban companies and members of the Missouri delegation.