Companies Launch New U.S.-Cuba Trade Association: Major Corporations and Blue-Ribbon Advisory Panel Join On

    WASHINGTON, April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- More than thirty companies, state
 agencies, and organizations from 19 states announced today the official
 formation of the U.S.-Cuba Trade Association (USCTA).
     Charter members of the newly formed association include ADM, Caterpillar,
 Cargill, National Foreign Trade Council, USA*Engage, USA Rice Federation,
 North Dakota Farm Bureau, Port of Galveston, Louisiana Department of Economic
 Development, AgBioTech, Buffalo Int'l., Arthur Savage & Sons,  Port Manatee
 Commercial Center, Virginia Department of Agriculture, U.S. Wheat Associates,
 and other companies.
     The mission of the U.S.-Cuba Trade Association is to protect current trade
 with Cuba, expand and increase the potential for future business, and promote
 the full normalization of commercial relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
     "We have formed this association because of the desire of our members not
 only to keep trade with Cuba running smoothly," said Kirby Jones, USCTA
 President and long-term advisor to U.S. firms interested in Cuba, "but also to
 move forward to expand trade and travel opportunities with Cuba."
     The Association was formed shortly after the Office of Foreign Assets
 Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury ruled that U.S. firms
 receive money in advance from Cuba before shipping. "This action has already
 disrupted and directly hurt the smooth trade which in three years produced
 over $1.2 billion in sales by American firms," added Jones.
     The Association has pledged support for S. 328, the Agricultural Export
 Facilitation Act of 2005, sponsored by U.S. Senators Larry Craig (R-ID), Max
 Baucus (D-MT.), and 28 other cosponsor and the same bill in the House HR. 719
 by Jerry Moran (R-Ks) which would open more trade with Cuba.  The new
 association also voiced support for bills expected to be introduced on
 April 27 by U.S. Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Baucus in the Senate and U.S.
 Reps. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and William Delahunt (D-MA) to open up travel to Cuba.
     The Board of Directors of the new group is headed by Bill Reinsch, former
 Under Secretary of Commerce and current President of the National Foreign
 Trade Council (NFTC). The new Association has formed a strategic partnership
 with the NFTC and its USA*Engage Coalition of more than 600 U.S. companies
 which have opposed the use of unilateral economic sanctions, including the
 Cuba embargo.
     "Cuba is the poster child for ineffective sanctions and the embargo ought
 to be removed," said USCTA Board Chairman, Reinsch, "and the U.S.-Cuba Trade
 Association will help its member companies do business in Cuba and learn about
 the future potential."
     The Association's Board of Advisors, chaired by William D. Rogers, former
 Assistant Secretary of State and a Vice Chairman of Kissinger Associates,
 includes David Rockefeller; Carla Hills, former U.S. Trade representative;
 Frank Carlucci, former Secretary of Defense; James Schlesinger, former
 Director of CIA and Secretary of Defense; A.W. Clausen, former CEO of Bank
 America and President of the World Bank; Silvia Wilhelm, of the Miami-based
 Cuban American Commission for Family Rights; Dr. Julius Richmond, a former
 U.S. Surgeon General and current head of Harvard's School of Public Health;
 and 20 other prominent Americans who reflect the broad national support among
 different sectors for normalized trade with Cuba.
     In joining the USCTA Board of advisors, Frank Carlucci, said, "I support
 the formation of the U.S.-Cuba Trade Association because I believe that
 normalizing commercial relations with Cuba is in our own national interest and
 would likely bring better results than the 45-year-old unilateral embargo."
     Advisory Board Chair William Rogers, added that "We have seen the positive
 results of engagement with China, Vietnam.  It is essential that the U.S. take
 the lead now in expanding relations with our strategically important neighbor,
 Cuba. This Association is an important step toward building more robust
 private sector commercial ties with the Cubans -- a vital precondition to a
 more normal relationship between our country and theirs."
     According to its web site (http://www.uscuba.org) the U.S.-Cuba Trade
 Association will establish a national data base of companies interested in
 trade with Cuba, set up an email alert system to mobilize support for
 Congressional initiatives, provide members with a monthly newsletter, and
 organize seminars and conferences to educate the U.S. business community about
 doing business with Cuba.
     As one of its first activities, the U.S.-Cuba Trade Association is hosting
 a meeting on Wednesday, April 27 for companies, agricultural associations, and
 representatives of organizations to hear directly from Pedro Alvarez, Chairman
 of Alimport, the Cuban entity which signs all contracts with U.S. firms.  Via
 two-way teleconference, Alvarez will speak to the group from his office in
 Havana and answer questions.
 
     The U.S.-Cuba Trade Association is a non profit 501(c) (6) corporation
 with offices in Washington, D.C.
     For a complete list of the Boards of Directors and Advisors, current
 membership, and all other details, visit http://www.uscuba.org.
 
      CONTACT: Kirby Jones
               202/530-5236
 
 

SOURCE U.S.-Cuba Trade Association

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