Engage Cuba, a leading coalition of private companies and organizations working to lift the travel and trade embargo on Cuba, today joined Missouri state leaders to launch the bipartisan Engage Cuba Missouri State Council. The council is comprised of business and agricultural leaders from across the Missouri to build statewide support for Congressional action to end trade and travel restrictions on Cuba.
The council seeks to lift the travel and trade ban in order to allow Missouri businesses to regain lost market share on the island while supporting Cuba’s growing private sector. In May, Engage Cuba released a report highlighting the export expansion opportunities for Missouri farmers if the U.S. changed its policy towards Cuba.
"We’re very pleased to work with all of our Engage Cuba Missouri State Council members to lift the Cuba travel and trade ban that is costing Missouri jobs and preventing economic development for the Cuban people," said President of Engage Cuba, James Williams. “Missouri businesses are stuck on the sidelines as our foreign competitors continue to take advantage of Cuba's growing markets. Opening up trade with Cuba would provide tremendous opportunities for Missouri’s healthcare, manufacturing, and agricultural sectors, and support private enterprise in Cuba.”
As Cuba’s markets continue to grow given the rise of tourism and the increasing purchasing power of 11 million Cubans, demand for high-quality U.S. exports will continue to rise. As a top producer of medical devices, corn and soybeans, and manufactured goods, Missouri is positioned to be an international leader in exports to Cuba across numerous sectors of the economy.
“Cuba needs what we produce, and Missouri farmers are excited about serving this market. Our state’s rice farmers will particularly benefit from expanded trade given the quality of their product and access to river transportation. We must continue to look for ways to improve the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture and grow trade between our two countries," said Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst.
“Cuba is a vital new market and we need to do everything we can to ensure Missouri’s business community is ready and able to take advantage of the new opportunities that are opening up right now,” said Daniel P. Mehan, President and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The Engage Cuba Missouri State Council will be a powerful advocate for helping bridge the divide between our state and Cuba. This is a much-needed effort that aligns perfectly with the goals of our Missouri 2030 strategic plan.”
"We're thrilled to be hosting the Cuban trade attache," said Ivry Karamitros, Director of the World Trade Center Kansas City. "And with our regional Export Concierge in place,we're hoping to help Kansas City area businesses begin doing business in that opening market."
Engage Cuba has launched state councils in 14 additional states, including Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico. Earlier today, Engage Cuba launched its Kansas State Council. More information on Engage Cuba State Councils is available here.