Bustos heading to Cuba for trade mission

Published 10/07 2015 01:07PM

Updated 10/07 2015 01:07PM

U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D, IL-17) and Rodney Davis (R, IL-13) announced they will be traveling to Cuba as part of a bipartisan agricultural trade mission to establish new economic development and export opportunities for Illinois farmers.

The Oct. 11-14 trip, which is being sponsored by the Illinois Cuba Working Group, will include meetings and discussions with officials from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alimport (which coordinates all overseas purchases in Cuba), a tour of the Cuban marketplace and several additional diplomatic meetings. Trade mission participants will include officials from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Soybean Growers, Illinois Corn and AGCO.

Since 1960, the Cuban embargo has prevented most trade with Cuba. However, there are exemptions for agricultural exports. According to the Illinois Cuba Working Group, Illinois corn and soy exports to Cuba reached approximately $66 million in 2008. However, in 2014, it was just $24 million, a 63% decrease. U.S. Representatives Bustos and Davis will be engaging stakeholders from both nations on ways to increase Illinois’ agricultural exports.

“I’m excited to embark on this bipartisan agricultural trade mission because we need to work together to cut through the red tape that holds back Illinois’ farming economy,” said U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos. “Illinois farmers have what it takes to compete and succeed on the global economic playing field. So I'm deeply concerned about how the Cuban embargo has limited their ability to grow and create jobs across our state. I’m looking forward to embarking on this Agricultural Trade Mission so we can build new relationships and develop new strategies to grow Illinois' agricultural economy by increasing our exports.”

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