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US governors ask Congress to end embargo on Cuba

US governors ask Congress to end embargo on Cuba
EurActiv with EFE 11:59

The governors of nine predominantly-agricultural US states asked
Congress to lift the embargo on Cuba, given the importance of that
country as a prospective market for many US food products.

In a letter signed last Friday and released yesterday (14 October), the
governors of Alabama, California, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana,
Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Washington said that the embargo
prevents them from benefitting from new business opportunities available
on the communist island.

“We write to share our support for an end to current trade sanctions
levied against Cuba,” said the governors in their letter, which they
sent to Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Republican Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid and
House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“It is time for Congress to take action and remove the financial,
travel, and other restrictions that impede normal commerce and trade
between our nation and Cuba,” they added.

The governors noted that, since in 2000 for the first time in 40 years
sales of food products to Cuba were permitted with certain restrictions,
“Cuba has become an important market for many American agricultural
commodities … but a sustainable trade relationship cannot be limited
to one sector or involve only one-way transactions.”

The US farm sector has complained on numerous occasions about the
difficulties presented by the embargo on the communist island, above all
concerning the prevailing financial restrictions.

Cuban imports 80% of its food and constitutes a $1.7 billion market
annually.

“Foreign competitors such as Canada, Brazil, and the European Union are
increasingly taking market share from US industry (in Cuba), as these
countries do not face the same restrictions on financing,” the governors
said.

“Ending the embargo will create jobs here at home, especially in rural
America, and will create new opportunities for U.S. agriculture,” which
is experiencing “tremendous momentum” in its exports.

In 2014, US agricultural exports totalled $152 billion, they said.

The letter was signed by Governors Terry McAuliffe (Virginia), Jay
Inslee (Washington), Thomas Wolf (Pennsylvania), Steve
Bullock (Montana), Mark Dayton (Minnesota), Butch Otter (Idaho), Robert
Bentley (Alabama), Jerry Brown (California) and Peter Shumlin (Vermont).

BACKGROUND

Since 1996, EU policy toward Cuba has been guided by the so-called
Common Position, which rules out full relations with Havana until it
makes reforms in areas such as more diverse political participation and
freedom of expression.

The EU suspended talks with Cuba in 2003 after Havana launched a
crackdown and jailed 75 dissidents in a direct response to calls for
liberalisation and greater respect for human rights.

It was only in 2008 that the EU started lifting some sanctions
unilaterally, the year Fidel Castro retired from the presidency
permanently and power passed to his younger brother Raul.

Source: US governors ask Congress to end embargo on Cuba | EurActiv –
www.euractiv.com/sections/global-europe/us-governors-ask-congress-end-embargo-cuba-318531

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