Virginia agricultural exports to Cuba increased by more than 67%
Virginia agricultural exports to Cuba increased by more than 67 percent last year surpassing Louisiana, Georgia, Florida and Alabama for the top position.
Virginia exports, mostly soybeans and soybean meal, represent 28 percent of Cuba’s total agricultural imports from the U.S., which totaled $148.5 million in 2015. Virginia was the only state to see an increase in exports to Cuba in 2015.
Since the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA) was passed, limited sales of food and agricultural products have been allowed to Cuba. Recently, the U.S. reestablished official diplomatic ties with Cuba.
As bilateral relations continue to improve, Governor McAuliffe tasked Virginia state agencies to explore new commercial opportunities with Cuba, covering a variety of sectors in preparation for the embargo to be fully lifted.
Although U.S. food and agriculture companies can legally export to Cuba under current sanctions, financing restrictions imposed by the embargo, which went into effect in 1962, still limit the ability of Virginia companies to competitively serve the Cuban market to the fullest extent possible.
Travel restrictions also constrain Americans’ ability to freely travel to Cuba and business collaboration in certain sectors, such as tourism and basic infrastructure investment, remain illegal. There are currently several bills in Congress which would eliminate or further ease embargo restrictions against Cuba. ■