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Cuba Makes First U.S. Soyoil Purchase in Five Years

Cuba has made its first U.S. soyoil purchase in five years as drought and adverse weather conditions in South America are causing exports to tighten from the country’s traditional suppliers.

During the first week of June, the U.S. sold 7,600 tons of soyoil to Cuba – the largest shipment to the country since 2010, and the first such purchase since 2011, according to Reuters.

Some industry traders are seeing the deal as an indication that Cuba is beginning to slowly return to the U.S. for agricultural trade including rice, chicken, and wheat after a half century of U.S. imposed embargoes.

Embargoes are still in place, and will likely remain so until after the U.S. presidential election in November, meaning that additional trade deals of this size will likely not happen in the short term. However, last month, the Martin Rice Company delivered 20 tons of Missouri long grain rice to Cuba at no cost as a gesture of goodwill.

Prior to Fidel Castro overthrowing the Cuban government in the 1950s, Cuba was the top destination for U.S. rice shipments.

"Because of their location, Cuba could normally get most of their commodities cheaper from the United States. This is the opening of that door for trade to take place," Arlan Suderman, analyst at trade house INTL FCStone, told Reuters regarding the soyoil sale.

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