Tag Archives: US_Agriculture_Coalition

Licensing Procedures for Agricultural Commodities to Cuba

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is requesting public comments on the effectiveness of its licensing procedures for the export of agricultural commodities to Cuba. BIS is an agency of the United States Department of Commerce that implements U.S. Government sanctions against Cuba and certain other nations. BIS administers and enforces the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which regulate the export of commercial commodities, including the exports of agricultural commodities to Cuba.

Comments must be received by October 11, 2016. BIS will include a description of the comments in its biennial report to Congress, as required by the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. BIS’s report must also include the number and types of licenses applied for, the number and types of licenses approved, the average amount of time elapsed from the date of filing of a license application until the date of its approval, and the extent to which the licensing procedures were effectively implemented.

Jose A. Aquino (@JoseAquinoEsq on Twitter) is a special counsel in the New York office of Duane Morris LLP, and a member of the Duane Morris Cuba Business Group. This blog is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual attorneys.

Exporting Agricultural Goods to Cuba: Who do I sell to?

The newly relaxed U.S. regulatory controls for the export of goods to Cuba have been scrutinized by the media. Not much, however, has been said about Cuba’s framework for importing goods. Understanding the Cuban government’s regulatory framework is a first step for U.S. companies looking to do business in Cuba.

Generally, U.S. firms will not deal directly with the end user of the exported product. For example, exporting agricultural products is not about trading with independent farmers or businesses in the island but, instead, about negotiating and dealing with the Cuban government through the government-run food trading company known as the Empresa Comercializadora de Alimentos (ALIMPORT).

ALIMPORT is the Cuban government’s procurement agency for U.S. agricultural products. It is the only approved importer for U.S. food products such as wheat, fruits, vegetables and meat. U.S. firms must negotiate with, and deliver goods to, ALIMPORT, who then takes control of the imports at the Cuban point of entry, manages distribution throughout Cuba and coordinates payments. The United States Department of Agriculture’s report on Cuba notes that “the key difference in exporting to Cuba, compared to other countries in the region, is that all U.S. agricultural exports must be channeled through one Cuban government agency, ALIMPORT.”

Jose A. Aquino (@JoseAquinoEsq on Twitter) is a special counsel in the New York office of Duane Morris LLP, and a member of the Duane Morris Cuba Business Group. This blog is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual attorneys.

BILL TO EXPAND AGRICULTURAL TRADE WITH CUBA INTRODUCED IN HOUSE

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., introduced legislation aimed at making it easier to export American agricultural goods to Cuba. The bill, H.R. 3687 or the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act, would repeal a law that prohibits financing the sales of U.S. agricultural products to Cuba and would give producers access to Department of Agriculture marketing programs that help the U.S. compete in foreign markets.

Currently, Cubans who want to buy U.S. agricultural products have to pay cash upfront. American farmers blame the upfront payment requirement for the lack of trade with Cuba. The farmers claim that without credit they cannot compete with countries like Vietnam and Brazil, who can extend credit to Cuba.

The bill also allows investments in Cuban agricultural businesses not affiliated with the Cuban government. All of Cuba’s agricultural imports from the United States are controlled by the state-owned entity Alimport, which purchases products for Cubans. Crawford’s bill upholds the cash-upfront requirement for goods sold to Alimport or any other entity controlled by the Cuban government. The bill, however, would allow limited investment, if U.S. officials certify that the entities are privately owned and not controlled by the Cuban government. “We’re trying to work outside of the realm of Alimport because that is a regime-controlled entity. What we want to do is facilitate private-sector investment and be able to access that market,” Crawford said.

Representative Crawford further stated:

“While the Administration has called on Congress to repeal the embargo entirely, I think the correct approach is to make cautious and incremental changes to current Cuba policies in ways that benefit the United States. The Cuba Agricultural Exports Act would allow our producers to compete on a level playing field in the Cuban market, a significant opportunity for American farmers and ranchers. Not only is it estimated that Cuba imports around 80 percent of its food supply, but the US also enjoys an inherent advantage due to our close geographic proximity and state of the art production and food distribution infrastructure. I believe that agriculture trading partnerships with Cuba will help build a foundation of goodwill and cooperation that will open the door to long-sought reforms in the same the way that American influence has brought reform to other communist states.”

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, who cosponsored the bill said:

“Many in the agricultural industry have expressed a strong interest in increasing exports to Cuba due to the nation’s potential growth as a market for U.S. agricultural products. I appreciate Rick Crawford’s leadership on this bill—especially his efforts at reaching consensus with various stakeholders on this important issue.”

A copy of the bill can be found by clicking here.

Jose A. Aquino (@JoseAquinoEsq on Twitter) is a special counsel in the New York office of Duane Morris LLP, and a member of the Duane Morris Cuba Business Group. This blog is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual attorneys.

US Agriculture Coalition for Cuba Takes Off With the Goal of Normalizing Relations Between the United States and Cuba

On December 17, 2014, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba and reverse a more than 50-year policy of isolation. President Obama’s move to establish relations and ease sanctions against Cuba stirred the interest of U.S. business. In particular, the American agricultural industry, which is anxious to increase its market share of the Cuban food market, has led the support for President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba.[1]

On January 8, 2015, more than 25 companies and farm trade associations joined together at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to launch the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba.  The goal of the Coalition is to promote collaborative action for improved agricultural trade relations with Cuba. The Coalition believes that the improvement of agricultural trade between the U.S. and Cuba is the foundation for building successful and enduring relations between both countries.  Continue reading US Agriculture Coalition for Cuba Takes Off With the Goal of Normalizing Relations Between the United States and Cuba