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Port of Virginia signs MOU with Cuban port authority

The Virginia Port Authority has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Cuban National Port Authority to evaluate commercial opportunities between the Virginia port and Cuba's newly opened Port of Mariel Special Development Project, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced last week.

The MOU sets up a platform for cooperation and information sharing aimed at developing links between Cuba and Virginia to support waterborne trade and investment, improve customer service, enhance collaboration to improve business practices and increase vessel services between the two entities, according to a press release issued by McAuliffe's office.

Under the agreement, the two port authorities may undertake data interchange, market studies, training and technology interchange, and other initiatives.

"Virginia enjoys a uniquely productive economic relationship with Cuba, and this MOU will generate additional opportunities for economic and cultural exchange," said McAuliffe. "As relations between our nations continue to normalize, this agreement will position Virginia as a leader in trade relations with Cuba now and in the future."

Cuba's $1 billion port project will make Mariel the largest port in the Caribbean, McAuliffe administration officials said.

"Last year, Cuba purchased $25 million in agricultural exports from Virginia, all in bulk shipments," said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. "This agreement will help position Virginia to provide container service for agricultural products such as poultry, pork and apples, which are shipped in refrigerated containers."

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