U.S. Chamber Testifies in Support of Steps to Ease Restrictions on Exports & Travel to Cuba

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - 8:00pm

'Easing these trade barriers represents a no-cost measure that will help create thousands of American jobs,' Brilliant says

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President for International Affairs Myron Brilliant reminded Congress today that the current U.S. trade embargo on Cuba "is an anachronism" and easing restrictions will "facilitate a transition to democracy and full civil liberties" for the island nation.

"As the administration seeks new initiatives to increase U.S. exports, easing these trade barriers represents a no-cost measure that will help create thousands of American jobs," Brilliant said in testimony about U.S.-Cuba policy before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade. He urged lawmakers to approve the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act (HR 4645), as a recent study said such legislation could boost U.S. exports by as much as $365 million.

"We applaud recent efforts to ease restrictions on U.S. exports and travel to Cuba as a first step toward a policy more likely to bring positive change to the Cuban people," Brilliant said. "We commend members in both the House and Senate for introducing bills ranging in scope from lifting the travel ban and facilitating the sale of agricultural products to allowing investment in Cuba's oil fields or definitively lifting the embargo."

"From the business community's viewpoint, U.S. policy toward Cuba is an anachronism," Brilliant continued. "The embargo made a martyr out of a tyrant and actually has helped prop up the Cuban regime."

Public opinion has shifted in favor of increased trade and travel to Cuba. Recent polls by Bendixen & Associates indicate an unprecedented turn in the tide in public opinion among Cuban Americans: 59% of the Cuban-American community approves of lifting the travel ban for all Americans and 41% support lifting the embargo. The Cuban-American community also welcomed moves by the Obama administration in early 2009 to ease the embargo.

Brilliant's complete testimony is available at: /issues/testimony/2010/100429uscuba

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

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