JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - JAXPORT is the single most important port to the island of Puerto Rico.
Port leaders have already established relationships in the Caribbean, which is why JAXPORT spokeswoman Nancy Rubin said Cuba is a natural fit.
“It's a natural flow, Jacksonville to the Caribbean to Puerto Rico and potentially back to Cuba,” said Rubin.
Before the Castro regime, JAXPORT was Cuba’s main trading partner for goods to and from the U.S. mainland. If Congress lifts the trade ban, Jacksonville will look to reclaim that position.
“There's no reason to believe that if normal relations are established, and once all the details are worked out, that we wouldn't be operationally and geographically the most important to that trade again,” said Rubin.
Crowley, which is based in Jacksonville, already makes regular shipments to Cuba, mostly of poultry and dry foods.
Right now, the U.S. permits exports of medicine and agriculture to the island, and the new rules will loosen restrictions for other goods like telecommunications equipment and food.
The senior director of the international department for JAXUSA, Michael Breen, said that a potential expansion of trade could mean a job boom in Jacksonville.
“Logic says that once more trade comes in and out of Jacksonville, you’re going to see jobs not only in logistics and distribution, but I think you’ll also see an increase in manufacturing,” said Breen.
According to Rubin, it’s too early to determine how large the impact will be, but they will continue to keep an eye on developments as they have been for years.
“Opportunity is opportunity, and everybody will be waiting to see what happens,” said Rubin.