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Cuba: Trump Changes Course; Impact on Agriculture is Unclear

Ernst Undesser
By Michael Klein, USA Rice June 16, 2017

Cuba: Trump Changes Course; Impact on Agriculture is Unclear

The flag of Cuba. Photo: George Tsartsianidis

For months USA Rice has been warning that some of President Trump’s key economic advisors are decidedly anti-Cuba and could influence the otherwise pro-trade President to take an anti-trade stance with regard to the Island.

Those forces may have carried the day, at least for now, with the President expected to announce here today that he is asking the Commerce and Treasury Departments to take the next 30 days to rework some policies put in place by his predecessor, President Obama.

Specifically, there is expected to be a ratcheting down of travel allowances, or at least more stringent enforcement of the existing policies. However, in what is an unclear but possibly harmful development for agriculture, the President will likely attempt to ban any commercial dealings with the Cuban military.

In a country where the lines between government and industry are blurred, the impact this shift could have on relationships with Alimport, the official government importer of agricultural products, is uncertain.

“We continue to advocate for the normalization of commercial trade and business relationships with the people of Cuba,” said Betsy Ward, president & CEO of USA Rice. “Returning to policies that have not only not worked for half a century, but also harmed American farmers is not in the interests of the rural citizens who helped elect President Trump and who he said he was going to put first.”

Ernst Undesser
By Michael Klein, USA Rice June 16, 2017