JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Representative Rick Crawford is taking steps to further his ambitions for trade with Cuba.
Crawford, along with several other state representatives, visited the country recently to find out what could be in store for Arkansas farmers.
Crawford currently has a bill in the House that aims to amend the current statute to allow credit for trade with Cuba instead of an upfront payment of cash.
"Cuba is purely a cash market which means Cuba would have to pay United States entities cash upfront to be able to trade in Cuba," Crawford said. "The idea that we are not trading with Cuba is not exactly accurate. The problem is there's a big impediment to sustained trade because it's difficult to obtain credit and they don't have the cash resources all the time to be able to engage in those transactions with U.S. entities."
One of the top commodities Crawford pushed for trade was rice, which Crawford said could pay out well because rice makes up a large part of the diet in that country. However, rice is not the only commodity Crawford hopes to export.
"We're trying to set the stage for empowering their economy and revving it up so we can have access with other commodities besides just rice, other grains and leg quarters in the poultry market," Crawford said. "When rice farmers do well in East Arkansas, that has a multiplying effect in our economy regionally."
Crawford said the future of trade with Cuba lies in the hands of the legislature.
"That's where this bill comes in," Crawford said. "It allows for the lifting of that cash requirement and it also allows for U.S. investment in non-state entities, which do exist in Cuba. It's very limited and very narrow in scope, but it would have a huge impact on our agriculture here."
Crawford said he's received bipartisan support as well as support from grassroots organizations and there's a chance legislative action could be taken sometime this year.
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