Bipartisan Bill Aims to Open Agricultural Trade with Cuba

The House legislation would remove Bush roadblocks.

Four Congressmen have introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at removing Bush Administration roadblocks to sales of agricultural goods to Cuba. Representatives Jerry Moran, R., Kan., Stephanie Herseth, D., S. Dak., Jo Ann Emerson, R., Mo., and Mike Ross, D-Ark., introduced H.R. 1026, the Agricultural Export Facilitation Act of 2007, which will eliminate delays and denials for obtaining licenses that were instituted in 2005 and will facilitate to travel to Cuba, its sponsors say.

The bill would also allow Cuban officials to obtain visas for meetings with prospective U.S. exporters and for conducting sanitary and phytosanitary inspections of U.S. agriculture facilities, and it would permit direct payments between Cuban and U.S. financial institutions. This change will allow U.S. exporters to receive payments within hours instead of days and will eliminate an unnecessary transaction fee.

"With the stepping aside of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, this is an opportune time to encourage the United States to change its trade policies toward Cuba," Moran says.

Actions in 2005 reversed some trade opportunities for U.S. ag exporters. While the passage of H.R. 4461 in 2000 allowed for the export of agriculture products to Cuba for the first time in 38 years, a 2005 change by the Treasury Department to the cash payment in advance rule caused payments for agriculture exports to be made before ships leave U.S. ports rather than upon delivery, making it more difficult for American farmers to sell their products to Cuba, according to the sponsors. H.R. 1026 clarifies that a seller of a product receive payment at the time a Cuban purchaser takes physical possession of that product.

Source: Feestuffs

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