Port Of Gulfport Executives Head To Cuba

As one ship leaves carrying licensed agricultural products as part of it's regular route to and from Cuba, leaders with the port of Gulfport say they want to keep seeing ships like these coming in.

Executive director Don Allee says that's the goal behind this week's trip to Cuba.

"The purpose of the visit is to continue the relationships that we've developed over the years, to see what is on store in the coming year of '05, and to see what the port of Gulfport specifically can do to continue in its role as a facilitator of cargo southbound to Havana," said Allee.

This will not be Allee's first trip to Cuba.

"I started going there before the licensed exports were approved really as a prospecting trip," said Allee.

He says it's a trip that always proves to be beneficial.

"We like to look and see is there anything about their operation that perhaps we could learn from. So certainly, mutual meetings, it's a chance to keep dialogue going forward, and I think dialogue is great when it comes to being able to export to Cuba and that's really the purpose of the trip," said Allee.

Right now, a trade embargo between Cuba and the United States only allows for these shipments of food and medicine.

Allee says if that embargo is ever lifted, he wants the port of Gulfport to be ready.

"When the embargo is lifted, if it's lifted, what will the opportunities be. What could a port like Gulfport - how could we immediately participate," said Allee.

Members of the port authority will be in Havana for about a week.