US feed sector weighs up Cuban market potential

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags American feed industry

US feed sector weighs up Cuban market potential
The US feed industry applauds a bipartisan legislative move as the first step toward normalizing trade relations with Cuba, and reckons, if passed, it could allow US feed makers compete on a level playing field in that market.

Last week saw US Senator, Amy Klobuchar, introduce a Bill - The Freedom to Export to Cuba Act of 2015.

It comes around two months after US President Obama flagged up his intentions to rebuild the US and Cuban relationship.

If enacted, the Act would remove the US economic embargo on Cuba and would allow the feed sector to build export partnerships just 90 miles off the US coast, says the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA). 

Gina Tumbarello, director of international policy and trade at the AFIA, told this publication that it is not a question of if​ the embargo on Cuba will be lifted, it is more a question of when​.

"Both sides have much to gain, but only Congress can lift the embargo. There are a lot of political considerations in such a decision and, as part of the US Agricultural Coalition for Cuba, the AFIA will continue to send our message to Congress about the importance and advantage of eliminating legal barriers to Americans wanting to do business in that country,” ​she said.

Feed exports to Cuba

According to the US Census Bureau, in 2013 the US exported $10.9 million in mixed feeds to Cuba, a total that represented only 2.6% of all US agricultural exports to Cuba that year.

Normal trade between the US and Cuba was embargoed by Congress in 1963 after the Castro government took control of the Caribbean island nation.

The new Bill, cosponsored by a raft of Republican and Democratic Party Senators, would allow the industry to conduct business activities such as bank-to-bank credit transactions, thus allowing for a customary trade relationship. 

New markets

Tumbarello says the future of the US feed industry lies not domestically, but internationally, and with that, AFIA is continuing to focus on several trade related areas over the next 12 months in an attempt to secure new markets for US feed producers. 

But a priority for the feed association remains securing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for the president, a factor Tumbarello reckons is critical to successful good-faith negotiations and completion of pending trade agreements.

A group of US lawmakers, on a promotional Trans Pacific Partnership trip to Japan, today said Obama was likely to get bipartisan congressional backing for enhanced trade dealing power by spring this year, according to media reports.

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