Local port was first to sign trade deal with nation
By Fanny S. Chirinos (Contact)
Originally published 12:00 a.m., January 27, 2009
Updated 12:17 a.m., January 27, 2009
CORPUS CHRISTI — About 5,000 tons of pinto beans will leave the Port of
Corpus Christi this evening and arrive in the Port of Santiago de Cuba
by Saturday evening. The shipment is the first to head for Cuba this year.
Corpus Christi-based WestStar Foods began loading the sacks of beans on
Monday aboard the MCP Famagusta, a vessel chartered by Register
International. Pat Walleson, WestStar's managing partner, said he
expects to ship an additional 5,000 to 15,000 tons to Cuba this year.
"We would love to ship smaller tonnages of packaged beans," said
Walleson, as he oversaw the loading of the 100-pound bags at the dock.
The four-day trip to the island will mark the 92nd charter to Cuba for
Register International, said its president, Sean Register. The Corpus
Christi port in 2003 became the first U.S. port to sign a trade
agreement with Cuba.
"This is not only good for the Port of Corpus Christi but for America,"
Register said after receiving a "first-call" plaque from port officials.
"We're here because of the port's marketing efforts. (The Cubans) trust
(Register and the Port of Corpus Christi) and that means a lot when
doing business with them."
Michael Perez, the port's director of business development, said Cuban
officials always are looking at getting the best product at lower
prices. Having a good history with them helps, he added.
"The more we'll buy, the more we'll ship," Perez said. "We hope to do at
least 5,000 tons a quarter, about a $4 million load."
Port officials welcomed officials from WestStar, Register and guests
during a ceremony Monday morning. Attending the event were port
commissioners Judy Hawley, Francis Gandy and Richard Borchard and port
chairman Ruben Bonilla.
Contact Fanny S. Chirinos at 886-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org