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Cuba: Problems Still Exist, Even With Castro’s Death

by Ken Root

Listen Here: Agribusiness Matters 11-29-16

Fidel Castro died last week at age 90.  He outlasted 11 US Presidents.

The Trade Embargo Against Cuba still remains although it has been loosened by President Obama.

Fidel Castro’s death refocuses attention on U.S.-Cuba ag trade reforms, at a time when the incoming Trump administration has to determine its position on ending the embargo, or standing firm until the country becomes a democracy.

American Farm Bureau Federation trade adviser Dave Salmonsen says little has changed politically in Havana with the death of longtime Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

He said, “We still have Raul Castro leading the government there. He will move aside sometime in 2018, but we will see. The government continues.”

So, the concern is little may change in the near term, including the longstanding U.S. trade embargo that has greatly limited U.S. ag sales in Cuba.

“They have been getting their food primarily from other countries. There 2 billion of food imports, we have roughly $150 million of that. We know we could expand a lot if we had more normalized trade relations, but that hasn’t happened enough to really expand our opportunities to sell into the Cuban market, says Salmosen.”

Key Cuban-American lawmakers favor continuing the embargo, and President-elect Donald Trump threatens to roll back Obama trade and travel reforms without human rights concessions from Cuba.

Salmonsen says that the U.S. agriculture community will be watching political developments between the U.S. and Cuba “very closely” in the days ahead.

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