High Plains Journal
On March 13, the Engage Cuba Kansas State Council, the Kansas chapter of the D.C.-based national coalition Engage Cuba, applauded U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-KS, for introducing legislation to effectively lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba. The Cuba Trade Act would allow the U.S. private sector to trade freely with Cuba, while protecting U.S. taxpayers from any risks associated with such trade.
While the Barack Obama administration issued a series of regulatory changes to ease travel and trade restrictions, the U.S. embargo on Cuba is still codified by a series of laws. The Cuba Trade Act would repeal or amend legislation that makes up the embargo, including the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996, and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000.
"Sen. Moran's legislation would roll back job-killing regulations that are hurting Kansas' economy and the Cuban people. As a top U.S. exporter of agriculture goods and the largest wheat producer in the country, opening up trade with Cuba would allow Kansas agribusiness, which is an economic driver and job creator across the state, to significantly increase exports to a $2 billion neighboring market," said President of Engage Cuba, James Williams. "After 55 years of failure, it's time for a change. We applaud Sen. Moran for his leadership on ensuring that Kansas businesses and farmers can compete in emerging Cuban markets."
On Sept 19, 2016, Engage Cuba launched the Engage Cuba Kansas State Council comprised of top Kansas agriculture and business leaders. The council seeks to lift the travel and trade ban in order to allow Kansas farmers to regain lost market share in Cuba and support the Island's growing private sector.
In March, Engage Cuba released a report highlighting the significant export expansion opportunities for Kansas farmers if the U.S. changed its policy towards Cuba. Cuba imports large quantities of wheat, soybeans, feed grain, and corn, all of which are among Kansas’ top agricultural exports. However, restrictions of offering private financing for the export of food to Cuba prevent Kansas farmers from competing in Cuba's market.
Last June, Sen. Moran, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, supported an amendment to allow Kansas farmers to extend private financing for the export of agricultural commodities to Cuba in a must-pass FY 2017 appropriations bill.
Kansas' capacity for trade with Cuba extends well beyond agriculture. The Cuban government has expressed interest in building its renewable energy sector and has set a goal of generating 24 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, including building 13 new wind facilities. The energy sector is Kansas’ third-largest industry, and it ranks second in the U.S. for wind energy potential. Kansas is therefore uniquely positioned to be an international leader in export energy infrastructure and renewable technology to Cuba.
About Engage Cuba
Engage Cuba is the leading coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba. As a 501(c)(4) bipartisan non-profit whose funds are entirely dedicated to advocacy efforts, Engage Cuba is the only organization whose focus is U.S.-Cuba legislative advocacy. Engage Cuba is also committed to supporting the Cuban people and helping organizations and businesses navigate Cuban and U.S. regulations. The organization has the largest bipartisan lobbying operation working on U.S.-Cuba policy. Together with the Engage Cuba Policy Council of renowned experts, Engage Cuba provides timely updates on opportunities for U.S. business in Cuba, regulations, and market analysis. To get involved with Engage Cuba’s mission or learn more, visit: http://www.engagecuba.org.