Sunday, June 21, 2015

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Boosting exports to Cuba, creating jobs in Minnesota

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Boosting exports to Cuba, creating jobs in
June 19, 2015 5:04 am • U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar D-Minn.

Earlier this year, I visited Cuba to talk with agriculture and export
officials about ways to open up new economic opportunities for
businesses and farmers in Minnesota. More than anything else on the
trip, I was struck by the enthusiasm of everyday Cubans for renewed ties
with the United States. Everywhere I went, I saw one date: December 17,
2014 – the day our two countries agreed to start opening up relations.
It's just another day on the calendar for most Americans, but for
Cubans, that day – and the hope it has inspired – is one they will
always remember.

For fifty years, our country has maintained a trade embargo against Cuba
that has failed by every measure. It has not brought change to Cuba. It
has not improved the lives of the Cuban people. And it has constrained
opportunities for Minnesota businesses to grow and create jobs by
restricting commerce to 11 million people who live just 90 miles off of
our shores.

If you've tried the same approach for fifty years and it hasn't worked,
it's probably time to change course.

Today, our country has a historic opportunity to do just that – and it's
a moment we must seize. We have a chance to shift from a policy of
isolation to a policy that allows Americans to engage the Cuban people
through commerce and travel. That process is already underway, but more
work remains to fully bring our relationship with Cuba into the 21st

That's why I've introduced major bipartisan legislation called the
Freedom to Export to Cuba Act, which would lift the trade embargo once
and for all and knock down the legal barriers to Americans doing
business in Cuba. The bill will also help create new opportunities for
businesses and farmers by boosting U.S. exports and allowing Cubans
greater access to American products.

Ultimately, I believe that passing my legislation and lifting the trade
embargo will help usher in a new era for exporters in Minnesota and
across the country to access this important market that we have blocked
for 50 years. And my bill builds on some of the steps our country has
already taken to normalize ties with Cuba, which will provide a big
boost to Minnesota. Through the humanitarian exception to the embargo,
Minnesota exported about $20 million in agricultural products to Cuba in
2013. With the president's recent action alone, the Minnesota Department
of Agriculture estimates that exports could increase by another $20 million.

It's also important to emphasize what my bill does not do. There are
many outstanding issues between our two countries that must be dealt
with, especially our concerns about the Cuban government's repressive
policies. That's why my bill does not repeal provisions of current law
that address human rights in Cuba or that allow individuals and
businesses to pursue claims against the Cuban government for
expropriated property.

Make no mistake: we already do business in Cuba. But unlike many other
countries, we needlessly hamstring our own businesses seeking to export
their products there. And the embargo prevents Cubans from obtaining
food and other goods we take for granted in the United States. These
travel and trade restrictions also come at a cost to our economy because
they prevent our farmers, ranchers, and businesses from fully accessing
a market that is so close to home and that needs high-quality food and
other goods.

For too long, these opportunities have been closed to our businesses
because of a failed and outdated embargo that hasn't secured our
interests. It's time to turn the page. It's time to build on the
progress we've made and fully lift the restrictions that keep
Minnesotans from competing for business in Cuba and creating jobs here
at home.

Sen. Klobuchar is Minnesota's senior senator and the author of
bipartisan legislation to lift the trade embargo with Cuba.

Source: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Boosting exports to Cuba, creating jobs
in Minnesota -

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