Senator hopes to boost Colorado trade with Cuba
By Charles Ashby
Monday, August 8, 2016
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., wants to link as many Colorado
farmers and ranchers with Cuba as possible.
As part of an effort to help open up markets in that Caribbean nation,
and help boost Colorado's agriculture exports, the senator has partnered
with a group called Engage Cuba, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of
private companies and organizations that is working to lift travel and
trade embargoes on the island nation.
To make that happen, Bennet and the group have created a 38-member
council of Coloradans from the travel, banking, tourism and agricultural
Though no one specifically from the Western Slope is on that panel, they
are represented through such groups as the Colorado Farm Bureau and the
Colorado Pork Producers Council, Bennet's office said.
Along with that effort, Bennet is co-sponsoring a bill in Congress, the
Freedom to Export to Cuba Act, that would repeal current restrictions on
doing business with the communist nation, something that President
Barack Obama has already started to do on his own.
"Whether it's potatoes in the San Luis Valley, grass-fed beef from the
Western Slope, milk and cheese from local dairies or wheat from the
eastern plains, Cuba will create excellent new opportunities for farmers
and ranchers," Bennet said. "Unfortunately, our agriculture industry,
the state's third largest, is missing out on these lucrative markets. We
hope that the creation of this council will help build support for our
bill and open doors for economic growth for Colorado producers."
Engage Cuba says that the island nation imports about 80 percent of its
food, spending as much as $2 billion last year alone. The group's
president, James Williams, said Colorado's council could help the state
get a piece of that market.
Williams said Cuba's interest in business ties with the United States
goes beyond food. The island also is interested in getting help building
a renewable energy industry, and has set a goal of generating up to 24
percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, including
building 13 wind facilities.
"It's time to end 55 years of failed, isolationist policies toward
Cuba," Williams said. "Colorado businesses are stuck on the sidelines as
our foreign competitors continue to take advantage of Cuba's growing
markets. Opening up trade with Cuba would provide tremendous
opportunities for Colorado agriculture, manufacturing, technology and
renewable energy sectors, and support Cuba's growing private sector."
Source: Senator hopes to boost Colorado trade with Cuba | GJSentinel.com