The United States took another important step on Thursday toward opening up commerce with and travel to Cuba. With an amendment to the fiscal year 2017 financial services appropriations bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to lift the five-decade-old travel ban to the communist country, which remains in effect despite the opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana last August.
The U.S. Agricultural Coalition for Cuba, of which IDFA is a member, sent a letter to the Finance and Appropriations committee chairs and ranking members urging their support for the amendment. The coalition asked members to support the alleviation of trade barriers to Cuba, including restrictions on the financing of agricultural commodities and food products destined for the island nation.
IDFA supports the lifting of finance, trade and travel bans to Cuba. The continued movement toward normalization between the United States and Cuba will help American agriculture expand into a $2 billion import market. In 2015, U.S. exports to Cuba represented less than 10 percent of that market even though U.S. products are higher quality and travel a shorter distance than those of international competitors.
Although the amendment was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, the House Appropriations Committee did not include a similar provision in its version of the fiscal year 2017 financial services appropriations bill, which it reported out earlier this month. Republican leaders in the House have historically opposed lifting the Cuba travel ban.
For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at email@example.com.