News Release Archive

Nova Scotia companies negotiated more than $6.5 million worth of
new contracts during a recent trade mission to Cuba. Twenty-five
companies joined the March mission, which was led by Economic
Development and Tourism Minister Richie Mann and Health Minister
Bernie Boudreau.

Most of the companies returning with contracts or signed letters
of intent were repeat visitors to Cuba. Products of interest to
the Cubans included fish, agricultural and paper products,
ambulances, armoured vehicles, and new and used cars.

"The potential business deals from this mission could see Nova
Scotia exports to Cuba double to $20 million next year," said Mr.
Mann. Nova Scotia exports to Cuba rose from less than $2 million
in 1992, to more than $10 million in 1996.

The first-time visitors to Cuba primarily viewed the mission as a
fact-finding trip, to determine if there were opportunities for
them in the Caribbean's largest country.

All participants called the mission a success, citing the access
to high-ranking Cuban officials that the two Nova Scotia
ministers were able to provide. "It's important that our trading
partners in Cuba know that our government is behind us," said
Gary Johnson, president of Maritime Paper. "That makes a big
impression on them. We'll return to do business on our own, but
in the introductory stages, it's a huge deal with the Cubans to
see us with this kind of government support."

AgroKings president, Andy Vermuelen said, "Richie Mann convinced
the Cuban vice-president to visit our agriculture site in Cuba,
so we could point out some difficulties. We weren't expecting
that, and judging by the startled reaction of the Cuban workers,
they weren't expecting to see Castro's second-in-command walking
through their fields either." Mr. Vermuelen said he's optimistic
about getting sales of Nova Scotia produce into Cuban hotels,
where tourists are demanding quality products.

"Our job is to facilitate trade and increase exports, said Mr.
Mann. "Cuba is definitely a marketplace worth exploring. It may
not be for everyone, but many companies are having success there.
The companies told me that the mission was a success. I helped
open some doors for them, now it's up to them to follow-up on
their contacts."

Tri-Star Industries, the manufacturer of the province's new
ambulances, expects to hire additional employees as a result of a
formal letter of intent Mr. Boudreau signed with the Cuban health
minister. Used ambulances from Nova Scotia's fleet will be sold
to Cuba after the vehicles have three years of service here.
"This sale coupled with a training program offered by Nova Scotia
paramedics and physicians will see an improvement in Cuba's
emergency health sector to benefit native Cubans and tourists
alike," said Mr. Boudreau.

Frank Thornton of Advance Laboratories in Chezzetcook is going
back to Cuba next week to sign a contract with the Cuban
government to supply 200 drums a month of chemical concentrate,
an industrial solution for cleaning food processing plants and
hospitals. "Its taken me four years, but now I've got a deal that
will see my Nova Scotia technology and product shipped to Cuba
every month. This contract means I'll be adding six people to my
staff of 12 in Chezzetcook," Mr. Thornton said.

The increased volume of goods being shipped between Halifax and
Cuba means more business for the Port of Halifax. Halifax Port
Commission chairman Merv Russell said the mission gave him an
opportunity to strengthen relationships with officials of Cuba's
port system. "The Port of Halifax is in a preferred geographic
position to be an ongoing trading partner with Cuba. Our port has
a history of trading north-south and I think we'll benefit from a
renewed interest in that route," Mr. Russell said.

Current plans to restore and renovate old Havana has Wayne
MacLeod of MacLeod Professional Management Consultants
interested. "The Cubans sent me several proposals after I
returned back home, and I've sent back two contract proposals for
their review. Being part of an official trade mission made my
business more believable."

Nova Scotia's Deputy Minister of Environment, Peter Underwood,
found lots of enthusiasm in Cuban government circles for working
with Nova Scotia environmental companies. "Money is flowing into
Cuba in two key areas, tourism development and the energy sector.
Nova Scotia can provide expertise in waste water treatment
facilities and energy production," Mr. Underwood said. "In the
environmental protection area, Cuba is just starting what we went
through 20 years ago, so our experience is valuable." The
Department of Environment hopes to organize a trade mission for
Nova Scotia environmental companies this fall.


Contact: Linda Laffin  902-424-6810

trp                    Apr. 7, 1997 - 3:42 p.m.