A House/Senate conference committee is hammering out an agreement on a transportation bill - one of the hang ups is the Treasury Department rule that requires fidel to pay for food before its delivered. From Reuters:
Both houses passed measures this year to overturn a Treasury Department ruling that U.S. farm and trade groups say has slashed agricultural exports to Cuba by making it more difficult for the Communist-ruled nation to pay for shipments.
Congress authorized food sales to Cuba in 2000 if Havana paid in cash, an exception to the four-decade-old U.S. trade embargo. But a Treasury Department rule issued in February requires Cuba to pay for American goods before they leave a U.S. port.
Farm sales to Cuba have slipped. Sales were $261 million between January and September this year compared with $392 million for 2004, according to tracking by the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council.
House members of the transportation conference committee voted overwhelmingly to maintain the rule, while Senate counterparts voted to drop it. The split created deadlock and a new round of closed-door talks.
Knollenberg stressed the White House had made it clear President George W. Bush would veto the bill if the pre-payment provision for Cuba was overturned. Senate lawmakers were firm, with Democrats saying Bush has yet to veto a bill and was unlikely to derail the spending plan over one provision.
I have never seen what the problem is with the rule. Sellers put folks with bad credit on a C.O.D. basis all the time - and fidel certainly has bad credit. While the article claims farm sales to Cuba have slipped this year, its citation of numbers looks suspect - it cites numbers from January to September of this year, but seems to be comparing them to the entire year of 2004. If the sales for the first 9 months of this year hold steady for the entire year, the total sales would equal $325-million - not much of a drop. The rule also does not seem to have slowed down the parade of U.S. politicians to Havana - this site has documented trade missions from Nebraska, North Dakota, Louisiana, Alabama and Vermont in this year alone.
The Washington Post reports the following interesting quote:
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said the rules, requiring advance payment for shipments of farm and medical products to Havana, were imposed "to shut down the ability of farmers to sell in Cuba."
Senator Dorgan seems not to have much of a memory- just Monday we reported that North Dakota has signed a deal selling $20-million dollars in farm goods to Cuba and Senator Dorgan himself was quoted:
"I couldn't be more pleased," Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said via telephone to Cuban and North Dakota officials gathered in Havana. "I hope this relationship will continue."
Do they really think we're that stupid?