Texas could become top Cuba trading partner
by: James Thompson
May 3 2010
HOUSTON – The Port of Houston has gained permission for its container
vessels to sail to Cuba, the Texas Tribune reported last week. This
could strengthen Texas' position as a potential trading partner with Cuba.
The trade potential is significant. In 2009, total U.S. trade with Cuba
was $521 million. In 2008 it was $710 million. Last year $85 million
worth of goods was sent to Cuba from Texas.
The permission was granted by the U.S. Commerce Department, the Bureau
of Industry and Security and Cuba's Alimport agency. It will ease the
flow of cargo through the Houston port.
Legislation is pending before the U.S. House of Representatives which
would ease the draconian trade restrictions imposed by the Bush
administration as well as previous administrations.
HR 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, would
allow U.S. citizens the freedom to travel to Cuba that has been denied
them for many years. It would also loosen punitive financial
restrictions imposed by the Bush administration in 2005. The Bush policy
mandates that Cuba pre-pay for U.S. goods through a third country's
banking system. This leaves the Cubans vulnerable, because the U.S.
government could seize the pre-payment before the goods were delivered
and then stop the delivery of the goods. No other nation in the world
has to deal with such requirements.
Many Texans recognize the potential for increasing jobs as a result of
easing travel and trade restrictions with Cuba. In light of the current
economic and jobs crisis, it only makes sense to trade with one of our
closest neighbors. It is clearly a win-win proposition.