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Manufacturers urge Congress to lift Cuban embargo

Manufacturers urge Congress to lift Cuban embargo
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A leading business group is urging Congress to lift a decades-old trade embargo with Cuba following President Obama's historic visit this week. 

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) wrote a letter to Reps. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerVoters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican A louder voice for women everywhere GOP sees path to House majority in 2022 MORE (R-Minn.) and Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) expressing support for their legislation that would end long-standing trade barriers between the two nations.

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"Eliminating the trade embargo on Cuba will allow for increased economic activity between the two nations and provide manufacturers with new access to a market less than 100 miles from our shores,” wrote Linda Dempsey, NAM’s vice president of international affairs, in the letter. 

“The NAM supports the ongoing efforts to achieve normal trade relations with Cuba, and we strongly encourage Congress to advance legislation that will open trade and investment," Dempsey wrote. 

Castor, who traveled to Cuba with the president earlier this week, introduced the legislation last summer with Emmer. They are working together to build a coalition of support to pass their measure to lift the embargo.

Since the president — who was the first U.S. leader to visit the island nation in nearly 90 years — announced his decision to reopen diplomatic relations with Cuba, U.S. businesses have become increasingly optimistic that Congress will move forward to end the embargo.

"The Cuban government should respond to these changes by allowing U.S. companies to trade directly with the emerging Cuban private sector and by continuing market-oriented reforms that facilitate foreign investment," Dempsey wrote.

The NAM recently formed the Cuba Policy Working Group to examine legislative solutions, including lifting current trade and travel bans between the two countries, making it easier for Americans to engage with Cubans and allowing U.S. interests to support the expansion of private enterprise in Cuba.

“As the largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba is well positioned to become a market for U.S. goods and services,” Dempsey wrote.

During his trip, the president noted that while the two nations are making strides, there is still plenty of work ahead to break down barriers and soothe tensions in the relationship. 

"Significant hurdles to expanded trade and investment opportunities remain, however, and manufacturers will continue to urge Congress to take actions that will open opportunities for exporters and travelers," Dempsey wrote.