Inching Toward Trade with Cuba

Jul 29, 2015
Everyone's waiting
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WASHINGTON, DC -- Yesterday, Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to end the embargo on Cuba.  Called the "Cuba Trade Act of 2015," the bill mirrors a Senate bill introduced in June by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS).  Emmer and Moran's bills completely lift the restrictions to trade and travel with Cuba and have bipartisan support, including legislators from key rice-producing states. 

Last week, Moran's bill was introduced as an amendment to the Senate's Financial Services Appropriations Bill, along with two other amendments that would ease banking restrictions with Cuba and eliminate an obstacle to shipping goods to the Island.  The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Financial Services Appropriations Bill along with all three pro-Cuba amendments.

Emmer's bill will face opposition from House Speaker John Boehner, who has said he will not encourage the House to address the embargo due to government and human rights issues in Cuba.

The new House bill comes after last week's historic opening of a Cuban embassy in Washington.  Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to raise the American flag at the new U.S. Embassy in Havana next month. 

The U.S. Agriculture for Cuba Coalition (USACC), of which USA Rice is a founding member, has come out in support of the three amendments to the Senate Financial Services Appropriations bills, as well as Emmer's Cuba Trade Act of 2015.

"USA Rice has been at the forefront of the push to open up trade with Cuba, and we're encouraged by this flurry of legislative activity," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  "Cuba was our number one export market before the embargo, and I believe with our superior product and clear logistical advantages, it will be again one day."