Due to Cuba`s legal, political and regulatory constraints, its economy does not generate sufficient foreign exchange to buy U.S. exports that could come from the easing of the embargo. Even if the U.S. Congress resented the embargo, Cubans would not use their potential without new economic reforms in Cuba. Cuban government rules and opaque procurement practices hinder transactions with U.S. companies that would be authorized by U.S. law. The UsDA will work to increase U.S. food and agricultural exports to Cuba by creating market opportunities, improving the competitive position of U.S. agriculture, and strengthening Cuba`s food security and agricultural capacity, while protecting the health of plants, animals and human beings. USDA will work with the Cuban government to promote the cooperation outlined in the U.S.-Cuba agriculture agreement, signed in March 2016.
The USDA will establish trade and development relations between the United States and Cuba to the extent authorized and in accordance with existing legislation. The U.S. engagement with the Cuban government is also limited by the continued repression of Cuba`s civil and political freedoms. We believe that the Cuban government will continue to oppose U.S. migration policy and operations, democracy programs, Marti radio and television, the U.S. presence at the Guantanamo Bay naval station and the embargo. The U.S. government has no intention of amending the existing lease and other agreements related to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, which allows the United States to improve and preserve regional security. In 2007, when Obama first proposed to meet with the leaders of America`s staunchest opponents in a pre-Democratic debate, he shocked Republicans and Democrats. “The idea that, in a way, not talking with countries is a punishment for them . .
. is ridiculous,” he said when asked if he was willing to meet with leaders of countries such as Iran, North Korea and Cuba. The presidents of both sides, he stressed, maintained dialogue with the Soviet Union in the darkest days of the Cold War. Strong congressional support for normalization between the United States and Cuba would contribute to the speed and success of the above objectives, including the embargo and appropriate conditions. We will seek support from Congress to lift the embargo and other legal restrictions, to allow for more extensive travel and trade with Cuba, and to speed up normalization. We will regularly discuss with members of Congress and staff the challenges and opportunities in Cuba, engage U.S. government policy and sufficient personnel and resources to implement the above policy objectives and priorities, and encourage and facilitate congressional travel to the region.