Trade Agreements May Finally Move Forward

Trade Agreements May Finally Move Forward

Easing restrictions on Cuba trade, travel to be debated Thursday.

The pace is likely to pick up on moving trade agreements forward, thanks to a push in that direction from President Obama's State of the Union speech, says Chris Garza, a specialist with the American Farm Bureau.

Garza talked with members of the Kansas Farm Bureau attending the annual County President's Trip to Washington, D.C. on Monday.

Garza said free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea have been stalled awaiting Congressional approval for three years.

"I think the President's speech saying he wants to be more aggressive on trade, doubling our exports over the next five years could be the signal that it is time to move forward," he said.

In addition to free trade agreements, a bill that would reduce restrictions on trade with Cuba and allow free travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens, is scheduled to come to the House floor on Thursday.

That bill, sponsored by Kansas Rep. Jerry Moran would restore Cuba's right to pay on receipt and inspections of U.S. goods rather than in advance of shipment.

It would also allow Cuba to wire money directly to U.S. banks rather than requiring money pass through a third-party bank.

A final provision would allow for free travel.

"That may not seem related to agriculture, but it is," Garza said. "Tourists increase the demand for food, especially higher-end food and that increases potential imports from the U.S."

Dollars spent by U.S. tourists in Cuba would also help the country pay for imports, he said.

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