U.S. Chamber Testimony Urges End to Embargo on Cuba

Sunday, April 26, 2009 - 8:00pm

Rothkopf Calls Embargo 'One of the biggest foreign policy failures of the past half century'

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In testimony before Congress today, Adrean Rothkopf, vice president of Western Hemisphere Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, applauded recent moves on Capitol Hill and by the administration to ease the embargo on Cuba and urged full repeal.

"The U.S. embargo on Cuba is one of the biggest foreign policy failures of the past half century and should come to an end," said Rothkopf in testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection. "Rather than encouraging Cuba to democratize, the embargo has helped prop up the Communist regime.

"Prosperity and free enterprise go hand-in-hand," she said. "Lifting the embargo would not only remove [Cuba's] excuse for economic failure, it would promote a transition to democracy and full civil liberties in Cuba and bring significant economic opportunities to American farmers, businesses, and workers."

Prior to the embargo, the United States accounted for nearly 70% of Cuba's international trade. In 2000, under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA), the U.S. began to allow the sale of agriculture and medical products to Cuba. Despite heavy regulation, by 2004 U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba rose from less than $1 million to $392 million, 42% of the Cuban market. In 2008 exports to Cuba reached $718 million.

"American farmers, businesses, and workers are missing significant economic opportunities because of the embargo – opportunities that have eagerly been taken up by our allies and trading partners," stated Rothkopf. "But it is not too late for us to begin taking advantage of these opportunities as the United States represents a natural trading partner for the island."

Rothkopf's complete testimony is available at: http://www.uschamber.com/issues/testimony/2009/090427_cuba.htm

The U.S. Chamber is the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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