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Business

Emmett On Cuba: “It Could Completely Change The Way We Do Things”

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett was in Cuba last week with a group of Texas business leaders.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett was in Cuba last week with a group of Texas business leaders. Their mission is to increase Texas exports to the neighboring country.

Hoping to take advantage of loosening trade restrictions, members of The Texas Lyceum – a public policy group went to Cuba with the goal of bringing business back to the Lone Star state.

In 2014 Texas sent less than $200,000 in goods to Cuba, down from more than $96 million in 2008.

Judge Ed Emmett says a major emphasis of the trip is to change that. For example, with agriculture…

"We used to ship large quantities of rice to Cuba now we don't, and that's the Cubans decision," Emmett says. "They, for whatever reason, have chosen to now get their rice from Thailand and places like that."

Emmett says another opportunity lies in converting the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay into a global logistics center for shipping.

"It's not a destination for freight. Very little of it is going to stay on this island of Cuba," he says. "It could completely change the way we do things. And from Cuba, coming into all of America becomes that much easier. If you look at a map, Houston's perfectly positioned to capture the bulk of that traffic."

Because the city is also a major point of entry for Mexico, Emmett believes Houston can become the gateway for goods moving from Cuba to Mexico.

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