U.S. Agriculture and Business Organizations Object to Further Cuba Export Restrictions

Saturday, 18 December 2004

Since the passage of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) of 2000, American companies have sold approximately $800 million in U.S. agricultural products to Cuba. These products include wheat, rice, corn, soybeans, chicken, pork, eggs, dairy products, apples and live animals among others products. Cuba is now the United States' 22nd largest agriculture export market in the world.

The agriculture and business organizations object to new guidelines being considered by the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) that would apply unique financing restrictions affecting exports to Cuba.

The letter stated: "It is our understanding that OFAC is considering new guidelines to interpret payment terms in a way that would force U.S. exporter to receive payment before goods leave U.S. ports. This would run counter to the norms of international trade, which do not require sellers to receive payment before transportation takes place; but instead require payment to be received prior to the release of goods. In addition, these sales of agricultural goods to Cuba are also authorized under TSRA as sales using the financing of third country financial institutions. Requiring Cuban buyers to pre-pay for U.S. goods before transportation takes place is far more restrictive than normal cash sales practiced in export trade throughout the world and clearly is a violation of TSRA."

"The U.S. government should not be in the business of closing international markets for American farmers," said Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Co-Chairman of USA*Engage. "The Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act has been a great success, and American agriculture has benefited from the limited opening of the Cuban market. Making it more difficult to sell to Cuba is counterproductive and will only hurt U.S. farmers."

The letter was signed by:

" Ag BioTech, Inc.
" American Farm Bureau Federation
" American Meat Institute
" Buffalo International, Inc.
" Colorado Association of Wheat Growers
" Colorado Wheat Administrative Commission
" Crowley Maritime Corporation
" Kansas Wheat Commission
" Louis Dreyfus Corporation
" The Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council
" National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
" National Association of Wheat Growers
" National Barley Growers Association
" National Chicken Council
" National Corn Growers Association
" National Foreign Trade Council
" National Grain Sorghum Producers
" National Milk Producers Federation
" National Turkey Federation
" Nebraska Wheat Board
" North Dakota Wheat Commission
" Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association
" Pet Food Institute
" South Dakota Wheat Commission
" Texas Wheat Producers Association
" U.S. Dairy Export Council
" U.S. Grains Council
" U.S. Rice Producers Association
" U.S. Wheat Associates
" United Egg Producers
" USA* Engage
" USA Poultry and Egg Export Council
" USA Rice Federation
" Wheat Export Trade Education Committee