Now that the seemingly immortal Fidel Castro has finally stepped aside in Cuba, a whole new set of questions arises. At some point, the U.S. trade embargo my finally be lifted after more than four decades, opening the possibility of trade with the island nation. In the years B.C. (before Castro) Cuba was the world's sugar producer but the intervening years have not been kind to the industry. Cane production is one tenth of what it once was. The development of a whole new market beyond crystallized sucrose and Bacardi may well play a part in revitalizing the Cuban economy in future years. Land use studies of the island have concluded that Cuba could produce 2-3 billion gallons of cane ethanol annually. The relatively small local demand means that most of the biofuel could be exported, earning the country a lot of hard currency. It's only a small fraction of what the U.S. needs, but it's a start. If cellulosic processes that could utilize more of the biomass are developed, the export amount could potentially be a lot more. We'll just have to wait and see.

[Source: Wall Street Journal]

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