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Normalizing trade with Cuba

Normalizing trade with Cuba

Sen. Ron Wyden introduced the U.S.-Cuba Trade Act of 2021

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Multiple U.S. Senators support a bill designed to normalize trade relations with Cuba.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the U.S.-Cuba Trade Act of 2021 on Feb. 4.

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) support the legislation as well.

If passed, the bill would repeal the major laws that currently affect the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.

This includes lifting the embargo against Cuba, which has been in place since the 1960s.

“To continue this outdated, harmful policy of isolation would be a failure of American leadership,” Wyden said in a statement. “While (President) Trump increased tensions with Cuba during his disastrous time in office, I am optimistic about President Biden’s new diplomatic course.”

U.S. ag products do currently get exported to Cuba.

American farm products have been entering Cuba since President Clinton signed the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000.

Since December 2001, the U.S. has exported almost $6.3 billion worth of farm goods to Cuba, says Economic Eye on Cuba, a publication of the U.S. Trade and Economic Council.

In 2020, the U.S. only shipped about $163.4 million of ag products to Cuba compared to about $257.7 million in 2019. Those figures represent a decrease of nearly 37 percent.

Ag groups are in favor of improving trade relations with Cuba.

On Jan. 24, the United States Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC), a 24-member organization, wrote a letter to President Biden asking him to make better ag opportunities with Cuba a top priority for his administration.

USACC members include the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association and National Association of Wheat Growers.

The American Farm Bureau supports an improved relationship with Cuba too.

“Farm Bureau supports normalizing access to trade and travel with Cuba. Opening this nearby market will boost business for U.S. farmers and ranchers, thanks to lower transportation costs to reach Cuban ports,” the organization says on its website.

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