The United States excludes itself from trade opportunities with Cuba, according to a report issued by the Engage Cuba group that advocates the end of the blockade against Cuba. The report on trade opportunities for Mississippi argues that the state would benefit from increased business with the Caribbean country.
However, US own guidelines exclude local producers from a market of nearly $2 billion USD, according to Lee Ann Evans, senior policy adviser with Engage Cuba.
Evans stressed that Cuba imports about 80 percent of its food, opportunities that is being used by the European Union, Argentina, Brazil and Vietnam, to the detriment of US farmers.
Cuba buys products such as poultry, dairy products, corn, rice, wheat, soy, which are available in the United States, and Mississippi can trade specifically soybeans, poultry, soybean meal and corn.
Brian Williams, an economist who specializes in agriculture at Mississippi State University, states the key barrier for U.S. suppliers is a law that prevents them from extending credit to Cuban importers, which is part of the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by Washington for more than 50 years.
Agriculture is actually in a very unique position when you look at the sanctions regime, because back in 2000, there was a law passed called the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act, which allowed the export of agricultural goods, but under certain conditions, he added.
However, this law does not allow us to offer financing, so it requires cash in advance, something unusual in international trade.
This is not competitive for US agriculture, so there are bills proposed in both the House and Senate to change this rule, he added.