News Release Archive

Twenty-five Nova Scotian companies will be trying to sell
everything from apples to ambulances in Cuba this week.

Economic Renewal Minister Richie Mann and Health Minister Bernie
Boudreau are leading the 25 companies on the Nova Scotia
government's third trade mission to Cuba.

Ranging from fish processing to construction, agriculture to
manufacturing, these Nova Scotia companies feel the time is right
to develop trade opportunities with Cuba. The common link is
Cuba's growing tourism industry and the need to meet quality,
international standards that tourists demand.

But according to ERA minister Richie Mann, these same companies
aren't expecting instant success. "Patience is the key asset in
developing relationships with Cubans. Deals aren't made overnight
or in a week; it sometimes takes years of repeat visits before
reaching an agreement. Thanks to the Premier's two previous trade
missions, the Cubans want to do business with Nova Scotia."

The trade missions to Cuba are paying off. Since 1992, Nova
Scotia exports to Cuba rose from $1.94 million to more than $10
million in 1996. This amount does not include millions of dollars
spent locally by shipping companies transporting goods from Nova
Scotia to Cuba.

When Frank Thornton of Advanced Laboratories in Chezzetcook,
Halifax County, went on the first mission in 1993, he had nine
employees at his Chezzetcook plant, where he mixes and sells
industrial cleaning supplies. As a result of his success in the
Cuban marketplace he has added 14 people to his payroll. During
this trip, Mr. Thornton expects to sign a joint venture with a
Cuban soap maker to supply quality products to the hospitality
market. "My initial success in Cuba was a direct result of
Premier John Savage. He made it possible for a Nova Scotia
company to make the deal, rather than a company from Ontario,
Quebec or New Brunswick."

This is the second mission for Ross Gilroy of Fall River
Enterprises, a transportation and consulting firm. Going on a
government trade mission, he said "opens doors that we couldn't
get through on our own ... it works." As an efficiency
consultant, Mr. Gilroy is having ongoing discussions with the
Cubans about improving port productivity.

"Travelling in an official delegation makes it easier for the
companies to gain access to the senior ministers in the Cuban
government," said Mr. Mann. "Also if things go wrong, we've got
the resources and the people who can fix them on the spot. On
your own, it could takes weeks, and nobody has that kind of time
or money to waste."

Both Mr. Mann and Mr. Boudreau will be meeting with key Cuban
ministers about trade-related issues. They will also meet with
the Canadian Ambassador to Cuba and accompany some companies to
negotiation meetings.

After 10 business trips to Cuba, Keith Condon of Tristar
Industries in Yarmouth knows the Cuban marketplace. He sold 30
new ambulances to Cuba in January. "Cuba is not unlike the Middle
East for doing business, it takes a lot of time and work," said
Mr. Condon. This time Mr. Boudreau hopes to sign a letter of
intent to sell Nova Scotia manufactured ambulances to Cuba,
together with a training program for Cuban emergency attendants.

"I am very optimistic that our agenda of health related business
ventures will be explored," said Mr. Boudreau. "This could result
in jobs for Nova Scotians and help improve standards of health
care for Cuba."

AgroKings Canada Limited of Canning is growing produce in Cuba,
the result of an international economic association between
AgroKings and the Cuban government. Glenn Ells says AgroKings
will be working with the Cubans to improve methods of getting
fresh produce to market. AgroKings' main export market for the
Cuban produce is Montreal and Toronto. The increasing demand from
Cuban hotels for quality produce is another market for a higher
grade of vegetables. AgroKings has also sold three containers of
Valley-grown apples to Cuba, under the cooperative agreement.

Wayne MacLeod of MacLeod Professional Construction Management
Services in Dartmouth is hoping to form a partnership with a
Cuban company that's building a shopping centre. This is the
first mission for Mr. MacLeod, but he attended a trade show in
Havana last November. He was pleasantly surprised by the country
and its people. "The Cubans are well-educated, but they have no
practical experience," said Mr. MacLeod. "With the boom in hotel
construction, we can ship raw materials and expertise from Nova

Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean. It's twice the size
of Nova Scotia, with a population of ll million. The 25 companies
on this mission understand that getting to know the people and
the country is a critical step in forging lasting business


Contact: Linda Laffin  902-424-6810

         Economic Renewal Agency

         Sue McKeage   902-424-3581
         Department of Health

trp                    Feb. 24, 1997 - 9:15 a.m.