May 20, 2009

Cuba Trade, Travel Bill Reintroduced

Crapo says Idaho agriculture could reap benefits

Washington, DC - Idaho agriculture could benefit from better trade opportunities with Cuba under legislation introduced by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and a large bipartisan group of co-sponsors in the Senate. Crapo, a member of the Senate Finance Committee and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness, joined with Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) to introduce the Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act of 2009.

"This legislation is needed to curb the obstacles that have been placed on exporting to the country," said Crapo. "Fuller U.S. engagement in Cuba is essential, and our legislation will ensure that unnecessary government regulations do not hinder that progress."

The bill eases several trade and financial barriers to better enable U.S. producers to export to Cuba and removes travel restrictions. Co-sponsors of the legislation include Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), Kit Bond (R-Missouri), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas), Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Patty Murray (D-Washington), Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon).

A trade embargo in place since 1962 was eased in 2001 to allow for the export of some food and medicine. Crapo said that removing further barriers to exporting to Cuba will broaden the market opportunities for Idaho agriculture including potatoes, wheat, peas, beans, barley, lentils, dairy, beef, pork, wood and other products. A similar Cuba trade and travel bill was introduced in 2007.   The Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act of 2009 includes provisions to accomplish the following:

• Clarify Congressional intent regarding advanced payments for agricultural purchases.
• Streamline bank-to-bank payments between Cuba and the U.S. for transactions.
• Remove travel bans to Cuba for U.S. citizens.
• Increase activities relating to the export promotion of U.S. agricultural products to Cuba.
• Ease restrictions currently complicating the sale of U.S. medicines and medical devices to Cuba.