June 21, 2007


Senator announces Cuba trade and travel legislation

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Finance Committee with jurisdiction over certain foreign trade issues, joined with Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) to introduce legislation today to ease trade and end travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba. The legislation, S. 1673, aims to better enable U.S. producers to export to Cuba and enhance U.S. and Cuba political and economic opportunities. "Unfortunately, Idaho products have made up very little of the $1.5 billion in U.S. agricultural products sold to Cuba since the initial easing of trade restrictions," Crapo said. "That is due to the continued difficulty and additional obstacles that have been placed on exporting to the country. Cuba represents an important opportunity for agricultural exports, and fuller U.S. engagement in Cuba is essential to bring positive change to the country. Our legislation will ensure that unnecessary government regulations do not hinder that progress." A trade embargo in place since 1962 was eased in 2001 to allow for the export of some food and medicine. Removing further barriers to exporting to Cuba will broaden the market opportunities for Idaho potatoes, wheat, peas, beans, barley, lentils, dairy, beef, pork, wood, medical supplies and other products as many of those products are presently the country's leading imports. Crapo joined Baucus, U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-New York) and Representative Jo Ann Emerson (R-Missouri) of the Appropriations Committee for the announcement. Provisions of the legislation include the following: • Clarifying Congressional intent regarding payments for agricultural purchases. • Streamlining bank-to-bank payments between Cuba and the U.S. for transactions. • Eliminating travel restrictions and encouraging better access for Cuban trade officials and inspectors to visit the U.S. for purchases. • Increasing activities relating to the export promotion of U.S. agricultural products to Cuba • Easing restrictions currently complicating the sale of U.S. medicines and medical devices to Cuba