The Tampa Port Authority (TPA) hosted a forum on November 16 with presentations from experts on the topic of the current and future challenges and opportunities of conducting legal maritime related trade with Cuba. With an attendance of approximately 100 business representatives from throughout Florida and the Southeast, the forum included discussions on an array of Cuba-related topics from the state of the country’s economy to future cargo and passenger opportunities.
The three-hour forum was opened by Richard Wainio, port director and chief executive of the Tampa Port Authority. The four-person expert panel was moderated by Antonio Zamora, attorney at law and co-owner of Cuba News and law professor at FIU/LAW. Panelists were Jorge Pinion, with the Latin American & Caribbean Center/Cuban Research Institute, who presented an update on the Cuban economy; Jay Brickman, vice president of government services with Crowley Liner Services, who discussed the status of trade and cargo movements with Cuba; Bruce Nierenberg, chairman and CEO of United Caribbean Lines, who gave a compelling presentation on passenger ferry service opportunities between Tampa and Cuba; and Wade Elliott, senior director of marketing with the Tampa Port Authority, who detailed Tampa’s rich history with Cuba, once the Port’s largest trading partner, and the potential for future opportunities. The forum concluded with a series of audience questions to the panelists and a networking reception for participants.
“The Port of Tampa has strong ties with Cuba historically, and the port is well positioned with modern terminal facilities to serve a significant role in future maritime trade and commerce with Cuba,” Richard Wainio, port director and chief executive, said. “It is fitting that these discussions and exchanges of ideas should take place here in Tampa.”