HAVANA — The Obama administration has approved the first U.S. factory in Cuba in more than half a century, allowing a two-man company from Alabama to build a plant assembling as many as 1,000 small tractors a year for sale to private farmers in Cuba, reports the Associated Press.
The Treasury Department last week notified partners Horace Clemmons and Saul Berenthal that they can legally build tractors and other heavy equipment in a special economic zone started by the Cuban government to attract foreign investment. Cuban officials already have publicly and enthusiastically endorsed the project. The partners said they expect to be building tractors in Cuba by the first quarter of 2017.
According to the AP:
The Oggun tractor plant, named after a god in Cuba's syncretic Santeria religion, will assemble commercially available components into a durable and easy-to-maintain 25 horsepower tractor selling for less than $10,000, Clemmons and Berenthal said. The men believe they can sell hundreds of the tractors a year to Cuban farmers with financing from relatives outside the country and to non-government organizations seeking to help improve Cuban agriculture, which suffers from low productivity due mostly to excessive control of both basic supplies and prices by an inefficient, centrally planned state bureaucracy.
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