The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and USA*Engage endorsed a bill introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus - the Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act of 2009 (S.1089) - which would facilitate U.S. agricultural and medical exports to Cuba and lift the travel ban for U.S. citizens.

"The NFTC and USA*Engage applaud Senator Baucus and the bipartisan group of co-sponsors for their leadership in advocating for a new approach to U.S. Cuba policy," said NFTC President and USA*Engage Co-Chair Bill Reinsch. "The proposed provisions will not only benefit the American farmers and medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers who will enjoy the advantages of better market access, but also the people of Cuba who could reap the benefits of new humanitarian imports and the opportunity interact with Americans."The legislation would make a number of important changes to U.S. policy. The bill would:

  • Restore the right of all Americans to travel to Cuba;
  • Repeal a special interest provision known as Section 211 that violates international intellectual property rules;
  • Redefine the definition of the payment term known as "cash-in-advance" to its original Congressional intent under the 2000 Trade Sanctions and Reform Act;
  • Authorize direct transfers between U.S. and Cuban Banks for agricultural exports;
  • Require USDA to promote U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba;
  • Advocate for the issuance of U.S. visas related to agricultural exports; and
  • Remove impediment to exports of medical products from the United States to Cuba.

"We welcome Senator Baucus' bill and leadership," said NFTC Vice President for Global Trade Issues Jake Colvin. "This bill would advance trade with and travel to Cuba, which will result in the kind of contact and citizen diplomacy that is good for the American and Cuban people."