Illinois businesses looking to cash in on new Cuban trade rules

Screen shot 2016-10-26 at 1.02.16 PMWhile the lifting of a $100 cap on Cuban cigars and their famous rum has gotten headlines, it’s the lifting of other trade restrictions with the island country that has Illinois companies in a position to profit.

President Obama’s latest decree allows for tractors and certain agricultural products like pesticides and fertilizers to be sold on credit. Before, Cuban business had to be done with cash-in-hand and often pushed the island’s business elsewhere. Illinois Cuba Working Group Executive Director Paul Johnson said this change will directly result in business for Illinois. “The clarification that tractors and pesticides are not commodities and can be exported to Cuba on credit is an advantage for a lot of Illinois companies,” he said.

Johnson added that Illinois’ corn and soybeans would play a big role in the Cuban economy should trade be further expanded, saying “those are two commodities that Cuba will never be able to grow locally. They’re going to be big drivers of the local economy.”

Agriculture experts say Illinois could account for 15 percent of the isolated Caribbean country’s total corn and soybean imports if the 1960 embargo were lifted. Fully-open trade with the socialist country still looks unlikely, as Obama said in a statement that the two countries were still far apart on democracy and human rights issues.

Staff, Illinois News Network

October 24, 2016

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