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Two senators introduce bill seeking to lift U.S.-Cuba trade embargo

Two senators introduce bill seeking to lift U.S.-Cuba trade embargo
Published June 11, 2015 Fox News Latino

Three months after a group of Kansas agricultural officials visited Cuba
to check out trade opportunities, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican
from the Sunflower state, has introduced legislation that would restore
trade with Cuba.

The bill, which Moran introduced with U.S. Senator Angus King, an
Independent from Maine, seeks to pave the way for exporting goods and
services to Cuba – which essentially is barred by the U.S.-Cuba embargo
– by not calling for the use of federal funds to underwrite trade.

“What this bill does is take away one of the unnecessary criticisms of
dealing with Cuba, which is you’re just going to allow U.S. taxpayers to
fund the sale of agriculture products, commodities to Cuba,” Moran said,
according to McClatchy newspapers.

“What we’re saying is if the market is there, if Cuba can acquire the
necessary financing, that’s a great development for American business
and for American agriculture,” he said, “but the criticism that we’re
subsidizing those sales disappears in our legislation.”

The legislation, known as The Cuba Trade Act of 2015, permits private
businesses to export goods and services to Cuba.

In March, several Kansas officials traveled to Cuba on a trade mission.

When they returned, the officials said Kansas stood to gain from being
able to export agricultural goods to Cuba, which imports 30 million
bushels of wheat annually, they said.

Doug Keesling, a Rice County farmer and a former chairman of the Kansas
Wheat Commission, said at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing in
April: “From what I could see, there is a lot of potential in Cuba:
potential in its own agriculture sector and potential as a market for
U.S. agricultural exports.”

Of the 30 million bushels of wheat Cuba imports, Keesling said: “That
would be over 10 percent of all the wheat grown in Kansas, going to this
one island just a couple days’ sail from U.S. ports.”

Kansas Agriculture Secretary Jackie McClaskey said in a news release:
“It makes sense that we should be looking to add new trading partners.”

No one expects the legislation to just cruise through.

Lifting the embargo faces stiff resistance in Congress.

Many who oppose removing it say that Cuba must take meaningful steps
toward democratic reforms, including respecting human rights and
allowing political opposition.

Many also object to the decision by President Barack Obama to restore
diplomatic relations and ease travel and trade restrictions. They say
Cuba has conceded nothing in return and that the deal to restore
relations has disproportionately benefited the regime of Raul Castro.
The Obama Administration cannot end the trade embargo without
congressional approval.

“This issue is particularly fraught with lots of politics and personal
experience,” Moran said, according to McClatchy newspapers.

“Cuban-Americans who immigrated from Cuba to the United States have
strong feelings on both sides of this issue, so I don’t think anything
is easy about it,” he said. “But this is – in my time in dealing with
this topic – probably the best opportunity we’ve had.”

However, those who support diplomatic relations and lifting the embargo
say that more than 50 years of taking a hard line against the Caribbean
island have done nothing to spur democratic changes, and that a new
approach by the United States is necessary.

“Cuba is only 90 miles from our border, making it a natural market for
our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” Moran said in a statement on his
website. “By lifting the embargo and opening up the market for U.S.
agricultural commodities, we will not only boost the U.S. economy but
also help bring about reforms in the repressive Cuban government. I am
hopeful that increasing the standard of living among Cuban citizens will
enable them to make greater demands on their own government to increase
individual and political rights.”

Source: Two senators introduce bill seeking to lift U.S.-Cuba trade
embargo | Fox News Latino –
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2015/06/11/two-senators-introduce-bill-seeking-to-lift-us-cuba-trade-embargo/

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