“The Freedom to Export to Cuba Act would eliminate the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba and pave the way for new economic opportunities by boosting U.S. exports and allowing Cubans greater access to American goods,” Klobuchar said in a press release.
In addition to Klobuchar, a Democrat, sponsors include Republican Senators Jerry Moran and Democrat Patrick Leahy, the release said.
“The unilateral trade embargo on Cuba blocks our own farmers, ranchers and manufacturers from selling into a market only 90 miles from our shoreline, while foreign competitors such as China benefit at our expense,” Moran said in the release. “This legislation will expand market opportunities for U.S. producers by allowing them to compete on a level playing field with other countries.”
Cuba relies on agriculture imports to feed the island’s 11 million people and about 4 million tourists who visited in 2019, prior to the pandemic, the release said.
The release cited a recent study by the US International Trade Commission predicting that exports like wheat, rice, corn and soybeans from American farmers would total $800 million within five years if the embargo ended.
US restrictions on trade with Cuba date back the island’s communist revolution in the late 1950s and involve at least a half dozen different US laws. President Barack Obama took steps to normalize bilateral relations with the island, but many of those steps were reversed by the Trump administration.
President Joe Biden promised during his campaign to lift restrictions on remittances and travel to the island, but the White House said recently that easing the embargo was not a priority.
Cuba plays an outsized role in US foreign policy due to the presence of Cuban-American voters in key states that figure prominently in presidential elections, especially Florida.