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Fri Jul 01 06:22:42 SAST 2016

Australia is sending its first trade mission to Cuba

REUTERS | 23 February, 2016 07:52
"Several countries are looking at Cuba in order to leverage new opportunities," Special Trade Envoy Andrew Robb said in a statement, citing opportunities in tourism and medical service sectors. "In this regard Australia is an early mover." File photo
Image by: BEAWIHARTA / REUTERS

Australian mining and agricultural companies will join the country's first official trade mission to Cuba, which leaves for Havana on Wednesday.

In 2015, Australia-Cuba trade totalled only A$14.1 million ($10.20 million), less than 1 percent of Australia's total trade.

"Several countries are looking at Cuba in order to leverage new opportunities," Special Trade Envoy Andrew Robb said in a statement, citing opportunities in tourism and medical service sectors. "In this regard Australia is an early mover."

Robb's office declined to name the companies joining the trade mission.

Australia does not have an embassy in Cuba. In 2008, Cuba opened one in Canberra.

The trade mission comes in the wake of thawed ties between the United States and Cuba. They restored diplomatic relations last year after a 54-year break, but the U.S. trade embargo remains in place.

In March, President Barack Obama will become the first U.S. leader to visit Cuba since 1928.

($1 = 1.3829 Australian dollars) 

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