Trade Associations Send Cuba Sanctions Letter to President-Elect Obama
Twelve leading business groups today sent a letter (PDF) to President-elect Barack Obama, urging his administration to reexamine current U.S. Cuba policy and consider new approaches that would benefit U.S. national security and economic interests and the Cuban people.
The associations, which include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Society of Travel Agents, Business Roundtable, Coalition for Employment through Exports, Emergency Committee for American Trade, Grocery Manufacturers Association, National Foreign Trade Council, National Retail Federation, Organization for International Investment, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Council for International Business and USA*Engage, applauded President-elect Obama’s support for suspending restrictions on family remittances, visits, and humanitarian care packages from Cuban Americans, and noted that while “these are excellent first steps . . . we urge you to also commit to a more comprehensive examination of U.S. policy.”
In addition to calling for a comprehensive reevaluation of policy, the associations urged President-elect Obama to “immediately remove travel restrictions and allow Americans to act as ambassadors of freedom and American values to Cuba,” and to engage in bilateral discussions with Cuban government.
The groups also asked President-elect Obama to suspend certain restrictions on trade that would allow American companies to help Cuba to respond more effectively to the humanitarian crisis in the wake of recent hurricanes and storms in Cuba. They wrote that, “the United States could exempt agricultural machinery, heavy equipment and other exports from the embargo which would provide the goods and technology needed to rebuild from recent storms. The United States could also license direct banking services in order to facilitate these sales.”
The associations highlighted the cost to American businesses and workers, citing a 2001 U.S. International Trade Commission estimate that showed the Cuban embargo costs U.S. businesses up to $1.2 billion annually in lost sales.