Bipartisan bill to end Cuba trade embargo introduced in Senate

By Daniel Enoch

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2015 - A bipartisan group of senators led by Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota introduced legislation today to lift the half-century old Cuba trade embargo.

The Freedom to Export to Cuba Act is co-sponsored by Democrats Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Dick Durbin of Illinois as well as Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Jeff Flake of Arizona. While the measure would repeal key provisions of previous laws that block Americans from doing business in Cuba, it would not repeal portions of law that address human rights or property claims against the island nation's Communist government.

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“It's time to the turn the page on our Cuba policy,” Klobuchar said in a news release. “Fifty years of the embargo have not secured our interests in Cuba and have disadvantaged American businesses by restricting commerce with a market of 11 million people just 90 miles from our shores. There are many issues in our relationship with Cuba that must be addressed, but this legislation to lift the embargo will begin to open up new opportunities for American companies, boost job creation and exports, and help improve the quality of life for the Cuban people.”

The legislation has been endorsed by the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC), a coalition of about 40 major agricultural organizations and companies.

“We appreciate Sen. Klobuchar's leadership to advance this bipartisan bill, modernize U.S. policy toward Cuba and boost opportunities for American agriculture,” said USACC chair Devry Boughner Vorwerk, who is also vice president of corporate affairs at Cargill. “Ending the embargo will enable our agriculture sector to work in partnership with Cuba and the Cuban people, develop a meaningful trading relationship and create jobs across many sectors of our own economy.”

The Freedom to Export to Cuba Act repeals the current legal restrictions against doing business with Cuba, including the original 1961 authorization for establishing the trade embargo; subsequent laws that required enforcement of the embargo; and other restrictive statutes that prohibit transactions between U.S.-owned or controlled firms and Cuba, and limitations on direct shipping between U.S. and Cuban ports.

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