WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, President of Engage Cuba, James Williams, 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 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."
“Cuba is only 90 miles from our border, making it a natural market for our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” Sen. Moran said. “At a time when we need more markets badly as ever, lifting the embargo and opening up Cuba for American agricultural commodities would help increase exports, create new jobs and boost the U.S. economy. Keep in mind that when we don’t sell agricultural commodities to Cuba, somebody else does.
Sen. Moran continued: “While our unilateral trade barriers block our own farmers and ranchers from filling the market, willing sellers such as Canada and France, China and others benefit at the American farmers’ expense. This legislation simply seeks to amend our own country’s laws so that American farmers can operate on a level playing field with the rest of the world. After more than 50 years of what was a well-intentioned embargo at the time it was enacted, it is time for American farmers and ranchers to truly have market access to Cuba’s 11 million consumers.”
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.
Text of the legislation is available here.