HILLBOROUGH COUNTY-- Port Tampa Bay added has a big opportunity on the horizon: To become the main hub for trade between Central Florida and Cuba.
Tampa's relationship goes back more than a century with Cuba, when the two first started trading, long before an embargo was in place.
Port Tampa Bay also recently added two large cranes, and that decision, paired with a history of trade and proximity to Orlando and central Florida, could bring big opportunities.
Cuba's Port of Mariel wants to use Tampa as a gateway to Orlando and Central Florida.
But here's the thing: You might be wondering how Tampa can get around all the rules and embargoes barring us from trading directly with Cuba.
Right now President Obama and local leaders like Tampa Representative Kathy Castor are working to repeal a federal rule which prohibiting ships from any country that dock in Cuba from docking in the United States within 180 days.
The Tampa Port's Vice President tells our partners at the Tampa Bay Times "Port Tampa Bay is Cuba Ready", and leaders from Cuba will be in Tampa for a tour within the next few months.
Port leaders in Tampa tell 10News this opportunity is huge because it gives Tampa access to the world's markets, bringing more jobs and business opportunities here to Tampa Bay.
With all the legal stipulations you might be wondering if it's worth the headache.
But local leaders say there are three reasons partnering with Cuba is essential:
1. It's close-- only about 330 miles.
2. We are talking about 11 million people with 50 years worth of pent up demand for US products.
3. Because of the embargo the market isn't over saturated so there's a lot of opportunity.
To read more from our news partner, the Tampa Bay Times, click here: http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/cuba-wants-access-to-orlando-market-through-port-tampa-bay/2294139
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