The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade held a hearing Tuesday on “Trade with Cuba: Growth and Opportunities.” The hearing comes ahead of President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba next week. The visit, a first for a sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years, is a clear indication of the progress made since the administration announced in December 2014 its goal of normal trade relations with Cuba.
In the months since negotiations began between the two countries, many U.S. businesses have increased their engagement with the Cuban market. U.S. industry activity is expected to grow as regulatory and licensing challenges are drawn back. The administration published a new set of FAQs on exports to Cuba following a recent regulatory dialogue between negotiators and just this week released updates to U.S. regulations that will facilitate trade and travel.
In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chairman Ted Poe (R-TX) highlighted potential opportunities in Cuba for farmers—and exporters—of commodities like rice and wheat. Chairman Poe also cited a Peterson Institute study that estimated U.S. merchandise exports to Cuba could reach $4.3 billion annually.
The subcommittee hearing featured a panel of experts that discussed the prospects of economic growth through the normalization of trade relations. Richard E. Feinberg from the University of California San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy testified that Cuba’s geographic proximity and complementary economic features may lead to significant opportunities for U.S. businesses small and large. Testimony from the other witnesses is posted on the committee website.
The NAM is a strong advocate for a robust trade agenda to open markets and level the playing field for domestic manufacturers in the global economy. Eliminating the trade embargo on Cuba will allow for increased economic activity between the two nations and provide manufacturers with new access to a market less than 100 miles from our shores. The NAM supports the ongoing efforts to achieve normal trade relations with Cuba, and we strongly encourage Congress to advance legislation that will open trade and investment opportunities for manufacturers in the United States.