Organized by Engage Cuba and McDermott Will & Emery, a congressional Cuba trade roundtable event took place on June 7 where Republican legislators of the U.S. Congress advocated for trade relations between Cuba and the United States, particularly in the field of agriculture, which, they stated, would be mutually beneficial and represent an important economic opportunity for the U.S. market.
The roundtable was composed of Senator John Boozman (Arkansas), Rep. Rick Crawford (Arkansas), Rep. Thomas Emmer (Minnesota) and Rep. Roger Marshall (Kansas) with Cuban Ambassador to the United States, José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez, as a special guest and moderated by James Williams, President of Engage Cuba.
The event, organized under the name "Fostering bilateral agricultural and economic capabilities", also provided a propitious space to reaffirm the necessity to lift the economic, financial and trade embargo imposed on the Island for more than 55 years and to stress the importance of reverting the failed policy of the United States towards Cuba.
"The US-Cuba relationship is critical to our economy" stated Congressman Thomas Emmer as he also reaffirmed his commitment to work for the lifting of the embargo and "to break through for a new chapter in our two nations' history ". Rep. Emmer also pointed out how the failed U.S. policy towards the Island has had a negative impact on the Cuban and U.S. peoples.
Senator Boozman recalled that nowadays American farmers face a situation in which almost all the prices for their products are low, and that there is a market in Cuba, which can be provided with American products, given the Island’s high import of commodities.
The Republican legislators reaffirmed the bipartisan support in Congress, in favor of trade relations with Cuba in the agricultural and other sectors, and regretted that the current administration determined its policy towards the Island based on a reduced group of members of Congress who are rooted to a way of thinking of the past.
"It’s time to put politics aside and do the right thing", said Rep. Roger Marshall during the panel.
On the other hand, Rick Crawford highlighted how "Opening up trade will also open up a better relationship with Cuba" and urged the constituents back in the State of Florida and the rest of the country to get involved in this issue.
The Cuban ambassador, while giving his remarks to those attending, thanked the congressmen for their leadership in this topic, highlighted that Cuba is an ideal market for American products and underscored the existing potential for agricultural and trade relations between both countries. Likewise, he recalled that Cuba and the United States signed two memorandums of understanding in the field of agriculture in 2016 and 2017, which are still valid.