In 1960, the U.S. ended all diplomatic relations with Cuba and imposed a trade embargo on the island nation. Fifty-five years later relations are beginning to normalize and restored trade is on the horizon.
Late in May of 2015, the U.S. removed Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, taking the first monumental step in restoring relations. A few months later, the two countries celebrated the reopening of embassies in each country. However, large scale trade is still restricted by a trade embargo. The trade embargo will require congressional action, and this is likely to take some time to reverse.
The trade embargo with Cuba is supported by the Helms-Burton Act. This United States federal law states that the embargo may not be lifted until Cuba holds free and fair elections and transitions to a democratic government. Lawmakers in the House and Senate have introduced bills this year in an effort to fully normalize trade ties, but those bills have not advanced through the congressional process.
Not all trade has been embargoed since 1960 though. In 2003, former President Bush authorized exports of U.S. agriculture products to the island. According to Census data, the most common exports to Cuba in 2014 were meat and poultry, animal feeds, soybeans, corn, and chemicals-fertilizers. It is important to note that export licenses are required for any shipments destined for Cuba.
In an article published by Fortune earlier this year, the normalization of relations with Cuba could result in 6,000 new U.S. jobs. Additionally, agriculture and telecommunication exports are positioned to gain the most. In particular, Southeastern U.S. farmers will have a large advantage due to the close proximity.
It is unknown how soon the trade embargo will be lifted. However, Marisol International is already working with foreign agents to prepare for restored trade ties.