The Obama administration should work with Congress on a timeline for repeal of the Cuba trade embargo, the President’s Export Council said this week in a letter to President Barack Obama.
U.S. exporters will not realize the full benefit of normalized relations with Cuba without lifting the embargo, the council said in the letter. “We therefore recommend that your Administration engage Congress to identify a timeline for legislative actions beginning this year that will culminate in a full repeal of the embargo and the elimination of travel restrictions as soon as possible,” the letter stated. The export council approved the letter June 8 during a teleconference meeting.
The letter identified infrastructure as presenting “important opportunities for bilateral engagement.” As Cuba designs and implements new infrastructure projects “American businesses offer leading technologies and solutions that Cuban officials should be aware of,” the letter said.
The Cuban government must also “continue to address commercial barriers by updating its legal and regulatory framework,” the Council noted, saying such modifications are needed for the proposed U.S. policy changes to “have the maximum impact.”
Obama has repeatedly asked Congress to repeal the embargo after announcing in late 2014 that the two former adversaries would pursue normalized relations. The Republican leadership has not moved any of the pending legislation that would either revoke the embargo or end travel restrictions. Bills introduced by members of both parties have remained in committee with no hearings scheduled.
Private sector efforts were also urged by the Council. The administration’s regulatory dialogues with Cuba should continue to solicit private sector input, the letter said.
Deputy Commerce Secretary Bruce Andrews said he wanted to ensure that Commerce is providing up to date information on the changes, which he said herald a new era of U.S. commercial engagement across the Caribbean and Latin America. Consideration should be given to envisioning Cuba as a regional logistics and supply chain hub as policy makers plan for the future, the letter said.