Wyden introduces bill to repeal Cuba trade embargo with US ag exports down
Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., last week introduced the U.S.-Cuba Trade Act of 2021 to repeal the major statutes that codify sanctions against Cuba, including the Helms-Burton Act and the Cuban Democracy Act, as well as other provisions that affect trade, investment and travel with Cuba.
The bill would establish normal trade relations with the country.
“Our nation’s embargo on Cuba is an artifact from the 1960s,” Wyden said. “To continue this outdated, harmful policy of isolation would be a failure of American leadership. While [President Donald] Trump increased tensions with Cuba during his disastrous time in office, I am optimistic about President Biden’s new diplomatic course. Regardless, Congress has a moral and economic obligation to the American people to improve U.S.-Cuban relations as swiftly and safely as possible.”
Joining Wyden on the bill were Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
Cuba has announced it will allow private businesses to operate in most sectors, in what is a major reform to its state-controlled economy, the BBC reported this week.
It has been legal to export U.S. agricultural products to Cuba since the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA) of 2000 re-authorized the direct commercial (on a cash basis) export of food products (including branded food products) and agricultural commodities from the United States to the Republic of Cuba, irrespective of purpose. The TSREEA does not include healthcare products, which remain authorized and regulated by the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992. Most other trade is illegal.
Since December 2001, agricultural commodity and food product exports reported from the United States to the Republic of Cuba amounted to $6,296,227,424, said Economic Eye on Cuba, a publication of the U.S. Trade and Economic Council.
Agricultural commodity and food product exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba in 2020 were $163,354,728, compared to $257,659,479 in 2019, representing a decrease of 36.6%, the council said Tuesday.
Here, according to the council, is a list of the top U.S. agricultural exports in 2020:
▪ Chicken leg quarters (frozen): $67,085,594; 41.1%
▪ Chicken meat (frozen): $52,541,842; 32.2%
▪ Chicken legs (frozen): $23,449,751; 14.4%
▪ Soybeans: $7,953,290; 4.9%
▪ Corn (yellow dent No. 2): $5,383,417; 3.3%
▪ Calcium phosphate: $4,399,968; 2.7%
▪ Woodpulp: $1,025,750; .60 %
▪ Prepared/preserved chicken meat/paste: $541,437; .30%
▪ Kraftliner: $287,047; .20%
▪ Beer: $70,656; .04%
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