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Gov. John Bel Edwards

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is scheduled to travel to Cuba next week as part of a trade mission to the Caribbean island nation.

Subject to potential delays posed by Hurricane Matthew, Edwards and a 50-person envoy made up of business, education and agriculture leaders and state and local officials will depart New Orleans for Havana on Monday. The envoy, which includes Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson and Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson, is scheduled to return on Friday.

Louisiana officials have been plotting agreements to export goods to Cuba as the United States works to normalize relations with Cuba.

According to Edwards' office, Louisiana is the top exporting state to Cuba.

"While we experienced significant levels of trade with Cuba in recent years, the sanctions in place over the past half-century have largely limited that trade to essential items, such as food and medicine,” Edwards said in a statement. “There remains much work to be done before our nation’s embargo on broader trade with Cuba is lifted. However, there are new opportunities that can benefit Louisiana, and I am optimistic that we will be able to build on our existing trade partnership with Cuba following this bipartisan visit. We want Louisiana to be first in line to any new opportunities with Cuba, particularly the import, export and foreign direct investment possibilities that could range into the billions of dollars in the coming years."

The trip's itinerary includes meetings with trade leaders, Cuban business leaders and port officials. The group is also scheduled to visit Cuban farms, discuss disaster preparedness and response and meet with Jeffery DeLaurentis, who President Barack Obama this week nominated to become the first U.S. Ambassador to Cuba in 55 years.

DeLaurentis has been the U.S. chief of mission in Havana since 2014.

Then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco led a three-day mission to Cuba in 2005. 

The Advocate will also be traveling to Cuba and reporting on the trip.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.