While he has expressed opposition to trade policy that does not meet the best interests of the American people, President Donald Trump has also promised he will pursue a trade agenda that benefits the U.S economy and workers. One initial step the administration can pursue to meet this goal is to remove existing trade barriers with Cuba.
There are currently several restrictions on trade with Cuba that impede the ability of Americans to do business or even travel to the island. Removing these restrictions will open up opportunities for American workers and businesses and ultimately help create more jobs and higher wages.
Americans trading with the island will also serve as the best ambassadors of freedom to help liberate the people of Cuba from the failed socialist regime.
To be clear, any government guarantees of loans, taxpayer finance, or special deals to the regime should be a non-starter. Even so, free and open trade as well as open travel with Cuba should be promoted.
There are currently three pieces of legislation in Congress that would reduce unnecessary barriers to commerce – legislation to lift the travel ban, to remove private financing restrictions on agriculture, and to lift the trade embargo. Each of these pieces of legislation should be supported and passed by members of Congress.
Remove Private Financing Restrictions on Agricultural Trade
H.R. 525, the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act, introduced by Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR) and S.275, the Agricultural Export Expansion Act, introduced by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), remove needless private financing restrictions that exist under the Trade Sanctions Reform Act (TSRA).
Promoting market access for American agriculture will directly lead to more jobs and higher wages. In recent years, American farmers have lost nearly $1 billion in sales due to the existing Cuba financing restrictions. This legislation expands trade with Cuba to the benefit of American workers while also keeping safeguards in place to ensure that no taxpayer funding is given to the Cuban regime.
Lifting the Trade Embargo
The Cuba Trade Act (H.R. 442/S.1543), introduced by Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) allows America’s private-sector industries to export goods and services to Cuba.
Again, this change will benefit American workers and the economy. As noted by a 2010 study by Texas A&M University, lifting the trade embargo could increase the sale of U.S. goods by $365 million and create 6,000 new jobs.
To ensure that American interests are protected, this legislation safeguards U.S. taxpayers in the event that a Cuban entity defaults on lines of credit.
Lifting the Travel Ban
The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (H.R. 351/S.299) introduced by Congressman Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) lifts the travel ban on Cuba that exists under TSRA.
There is no need for a travel ban to remain in effect. Cuba remains the only country in the world to which the U.S. government prohibits tourist travel. This should end.