11:03 | 07/01/2016 Cooperation
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday concluded a three-day visit to Cuba with an agreement to boost trade ties between his state and the island nation.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (left) talks with the dean of the University of Havana, Gustavo Suarez Cobreiro in Havana, Cuba - Photo: AP
A memorandum of understanding was signed on Tuesday between the port authorities of Cuba and Virginia to increase trade and establish direct services.
The cooperation agreement was inked during the governor's visit to the first Cuban special development zone located at the mega-port of Mariel in the western province of Artemisa. Virginia's port authority thus became the first U.S. port operator to build partnership with Cuba.
Speaking at a press conference, McAuliffe said that both sides would benefit from cooperation in investment and maritime trade.
The Democratic governor criticized his country's five-decade-old economic blockade against Cuba, calling it "a foolish policy."
"If we can do business with countries all over the world, we must be capable of freely trading with a country that it is our neighbor," he said.
McAuliffe is the fourth U.S. governor that has visited Cuba since December 2014 when the two countries began to normalize diplomatic ties.
During his stay, he held talks with senior Cuban officials, including Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas and Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca.
An agreement was signed to expand academic exchanges between the universities of Virginia and Cuba./.