14ymedio, Havana, 10 February 2016 — In anticipation of a future lifting of the embargo, the US Department of Agriculture has asked Congress for 1.5 million dollars to send five officials to Cuban to work on the logistics that will support increases in trade when Congress authorizes it, according to the Associated Press.
Commerce Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday that this trip is “really important” and admitted that lifting the embargo will not be easy, especially in an election year. But, the secretary added, “at some point it has to end.”
The president of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC), Devry Boughner Vorwerk, also considers the presence of US officials on the island a priority. “We need to be there permanently to start a dialogue with the Cuban government and with our counterparts on the technical aspects of trade and investment,” he said.
Vorwerk announced that the organization will send a mission to Cuba in April to establish an ongoing dialogue with their Cuban colleagues in the areas of bilateral trade, production, sustainability, distribution chains, investment and research.
The president of the organization – made up of thirty US agricultural and food companies in favor of ending the embargo – expressed disappointment at the continuation of the embargo but said he was “hopeful” for the creation of a bipartisan working group in the House of Representatives and the presentation of several bills when his group held a similar event in January 2015.
Despite the relaxations introduced by the White House since the announcement of the restoration of diplomatic relations in December 2014, US farmers are still faced with a prohibition on extending credit to Cuban government entities who want to import US products.
Last April Heidi Heitkamp, Democratic senator from North Dakota, and Arkansas Republican John Boozman presented a bill to allow American farmers access to financing for exports to Cuba.