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US-Cuba trade hit decade low in 2014

US-Cuba trade hit decade low in 2014

US exports to Cuba hit one of their lowest points in a decade in 2014, a
demonstration of the longstanding barriers to trade that will hamper
President Barack Obama’s move to expand ties, figures show.
The statistics from the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council show that US
farmers sold slightly more than $US253 million ($A323.43 million) worth
of food and agricultural products to Cuba in the first 10 months of
2014. If the last two months of the year reflect similar sales levels,
2014 could be the worst year for US exports to Cuba since 2004.
American farmers say the main barrier to sales to Cuba is a US
government ban on providing credit to the island. That wouldn’t change
under reforms Obama has proposed.
Obama’s proposals do include a slight relaxation of US rules on Cuban
payments to American farmers, allowing Cuba to pay for goods once they
are delivered rather than before they are ordered. But US law still
prohibits any form of credit to Cuba’s state-run import agencies, which
routinely run low on cash and ask for several years to pay for the goods
they have ordered.
Those repayment terms are often granted by the Brazilian and Spanish
food companies whose products fill the shelves of many Cuban supermarkets.
The US is opening trade with Cuba, but granting credit requires an act
of Congress that appears unlikely in the short term.
“There is nothing in what the president has announced that indicated
that there are any opportunities to provide payment terms,” said John
Kavulich, senior policy adviser for the trade and economic council. “No
one should expect a meaningful increase in exports to Cuba on the day
these regulations are issued.”
US agricultural producers have launched a push to persuade Congress to
do away with the legal restrictions that remain part of the US embargo
on Cuba.
“It’s going to take Congress to end this embargo for the US to be
competitive in Cuba,” said Paul Johnson, vice-chairman of the newly
formed US Agriculture Coalition for Cuba. “Our products can’t compete
with Brazil, Argentina, the EU and China because of the credit issue.”

Source: US-Cuba trade hit decade low in 2014 – Yahoo7 Finance Australia

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