Ease Sanctions for Ag Trade with Cuba, Coalition Asks

The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, of which IDFA is a member, submitted comments to leaders of the House Committee on Agriculture for today’s hearing on American agricultural trade with Cuba. Explaining the economic value to U.S. agriculture, the coalition urged Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) to move legislation that would ease current financing restrictions and allow U.S. companies to compete for greater market share.

Currently, U.S. exporters of agricultural products and foods are hindered by the Trade Sanctions Reform Act of 2000, which requires Cuban importers to pay cash in advance or finance the transactions through third-country banks. Although the Obama administration re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba in July 2015, changes to the trade sanctions require action from Congress.

“U.S. agriculture is at a global disadvantage as we watch foreign competitors continue to take away our market share because of their ability to offer more favorable credit terms,” the coalition said. “As recently as 2008, our industry was selling nearly $700 million in agriculture products to Cuba annually. In 2015, our sales were under $200 million in what is nearly a $2 billion market.”

Conaway and Peterson are co-sponsors of the proposed Cuba Agricultural Exports Act, H.R. 3687, which would lift the financing restrictions while providing for market promotion and U.S. agribusiness investment in Cuba. The bill was introduced last fall by Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR). The coalition urged the leaders to move this legislation forward and to reject any language that would reverse or hinder U.S. agricultural trade with Cuba.

U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba

The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba represents a broad range of more than 100 agricultural commodity and farm organizations along with U.S. food and agricultural corporations that support lifting the financing, trade and travel bans for Cuba.

Read the comments, including the list of coalition members, here.

Market for Dairy

The U.S. International Trade Commission recently outlined an optimistic future for U.S. dairy companies looking to establish trade relationships in Cuba. In “Overview of Cuban Imports of Goods and Services and Effects of U.S. Restrictions,” the commission estimated that U.S. exporters could capture market share of 30 percent for total dairy products, with dominance in milk powder and whey estimated at 50 percent to 75 percent, and butter and cheese estimated at 40 percent to 60 percent over the next ten years, if trends continue.

To learn more about the emerging dairy export market to Cuba, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at [email protected]

www.idfa.org, September 14, 2016

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