Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

BILL WILL EXPAND AG TRADE

Clarifies the 2000 law to allow agricultural trade with Cuba

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation was introduced in the United States Senate today to expand the sale of American agricultural products to Cuba. The bill clarifies Congressional intent on the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSREEA), which lifted sanctions for agricultural and medical products to Cuba.

Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Max Baucus (R-Mont.), Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), and Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) joined a number of their colleagues in introducing the legislation.

“Cold War-era sanctions and restrictions have a track record of hamstringing American farmers, ranchers, and producers. Introducing Cuba to the American free-market and capitalism is the only way to bring about reform. Consequently, four years ago we joined forces to open up Cuba to establish a new, one-way market for our agriculture sector,” said Idaho Senator Larry Craig. “Today, I will not allow bureaucrats to re-interpret Congress’ original intent and obstruct already established legal trade.”

Before the original legislation was enacted, Cuba was the 226th largest export market for United States agriculture – it now ranks 21st after purchasing $1 billion in products from the United States. In fact, Cuba is now the 2nd largest importer of U.S. rice and the 3rd largest importer of U.S. poultry.

Craig continued, “At a time when U.S. farm programs face significant challenges, we need to be opening up markets for our agriculture sector, not closing them down. U.S. agriculture trade to Cuba has proven very beneficial to our producers. However, if we don't take action now to improve the workability of the law and help facilitate our trade, we will forfeit market share to the European Union, China, and others. Simply put, the American people and the American farmer won't tolerate foreign dominance of a willing market 90 miles off our coast -- nor should they.”

Senator Mike Crapo said, “It is my hope that this legislation can bring clarity and efficiency to the export of U.S. agricultural goods to Cuba. We should not punish U.S. farmers by limiting access to markets for agricultural and humanitarian goods. Additionally, further U.S. engagement in Cuba through relaxed travel restrictions provides an opportunity to bring about positive change in Cuba.”

The legislation introduced today, the Agriculture Export Facilitation Act of 2005, has 20 original cosponsors. Included are five major provisions: define “cash payment in advance” as receipt of payment before transfer of title and release of physical control of goods to the seller; authorize the issuance of a general license for agriculture producers to travel to Cuba to sell, market, and finalize any sales or trade agreements; authorize direct payments to U.S. banks; and allow the issuance of temporary visas to Cubans traveling to the United States for TSREEA-related activities.

For more information on Idaho's trade mission to Cuba, please read Senator Craig's Ag Action Issue Brief at http://craig.senate.gov/i_agactionplan.htm.

For a copy of the bill, please click here (PDF, 47KB).

NOTE: To link direcly to this release, please use the following link: http://craig.senate.gov/releases/pr020905a.htm.

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