Today, Engage Cuba had a great call with Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and members of our Engage Cuba Texas State Council on the importance of opening up markets in Cuba. We were joined by Texas leaders in business, biotech, education, and the community, who were able to ask Congressman Poe specific questions about the path forward for U.S.-Cuba relations following the 2016 election.
President of Engage Cuba James Williams started off the call by noting that given Texas’ strong agriculture industry, world-class ports and proximity to Cuba, the Lone Star State is uniquely positioned to be an international leader in exports to our island neighbor.
Williams then turned it over to Congressman Poe, who optimistically discussed the growing Congressional support for establishing agricultural trade between the U.S. and Cuba and his hope that diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba will be continued under a Trump Administration. “Mr. Trump is a businessman, and I hope that he can see the business and economic opportunity that Cuba presents for the United States,” said Congressman Poe.
“If Mr. Trump is building an "America First" policy agenda, he will recognize that trading with Cuba is a step forward for American jobs, particularly with agricultural trade” said Congressman Poe.
The Congressman noted that trade with Cuba is particularly beneficial for Texas business given the state's role as a major agricultural producer and Cuba's growing markets for Texas ag products, such as rice. Congressman Poe also shared his own story about his evolving views on how the embargo affects the people of Cuba. He told the callers that engagement, not isolation, is how we can succeed in promoting democracy.
Following remarks, the Congressman took industry-specific questions from members of the Engage Cuba Texas State Council, one of fifteen Engage Cuba state councils created to build support at the local level for Congress to lift the travel and trade ban on Cuba. Congressman Poe also mentioned that he helped lead congressional support for a direct flight on United Airlines from Houston to Havana, which will have its inaugural flight on December 3.
At the end of the call, Williams thanked Congressman Poe for his leadership on this issue. He also thanked the Engage Cuba Texas State Council members, a prominent group of Texas leaders in business, agriculture, government and the community, who believe it is time for Congress to open opportunities in emerging Cuban markets for local businesses.