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U.S. International Trade Commission to Study Economic Effects of Cuba Embargo

Posted February 03, 2015

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) last week launched an investigation to examine the economic effects on exports of U.S. goods and services, including digitally traded goods and services, of statutory and administrative restrictions related to trade with and travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens.

The investigation, Overview of Cuban Imports of Goods and Services and Effects of U.S. Restrictions, was requested by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance in a letter received on December 17, 2014, the same date on which President Barack Obama pledged to implement economic changes when he and Cuban President Raul Castro announced plans to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries as part of an historic effort to end decades of hostility.

In accordance with the request, the USITC will provide an overview of recent and current trends in Cuban imports of goods and services, including from the United States, and an analysis of U.S. restrictions affecting such purchases, including restrictions on U.S. citizen travel to Cuba. The report will include:

  • an overview of Cuba’s imports of goods and services from, to the extent possible, 2005 to the present, including identification of major supplying countries, products, and market segments;
  • a description of how U.S. restrictions on trade, including those relating to export financing terms and travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens, affect Cuban imports of U.S. goods and services; and,
  • for sectors where the impact is likely to be significant, a qualitative and, to the extent possible, quantitative estimate of U.S. exports of goods and services to Cuba, in the event that statutory, regulatory, or other trade restrictions on U.S. exports of goods and services as well as travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens are lifted.

The USITC is scheduled to deliver the report to the Committee by September 15, 2015. In the meantime, although the 54-year-old U.S. embargo on Cuba will remain in place, the Obama administration has nonetheless introduced sweeping new rules to significantly ease sanctions on Cuba. A package of regulations issued by the Treasury and Commerce Departments that took effect on January 16 now allows U.S. exports of telecommunications, agricultural and construction equipment, and permits expanded travel by Americans to the island. 

The USITC will hold a public hearing in connection with the investigation on March 24, 2015. Requests to appear at the hearing should be filed no later than March 10, 2015, with the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20436 (for further information, call 202-205-2000). The commission is also inviting written submissions from interested parties that will be accepted until April 15, 2015.