Suspension of Cuban visas could affect U.S. agriculture sales |

Suspension of Cuban visas could affect U.S. agriculture sales

Cuba has suspended the issuance of visas in the United States because the U.S. bank that has handled its accounts has ceased to provide diplomatic services.

The development was noted in several news accounts earlier in the week, and the USA Rice Federation, whose members export to Cuba and do business there, said Tuesday that the lack of visas could interfere with U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba.

“Before the U.S. embargo on Cuba began in the early 1960s, Cuba was the largest overseas market for U.S. rice,” said USA Rice Federation President and CEO Betsy Ward.

“USA Rice strongly supports congressional efforts to remove statutory and regulatory restrictions on direct trade with Cuba, to clarify Congress’s intent to legalize agricultural sales to Cuba, and to liberalize travel licensing and payment rules concerning U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba,” she said. “Obviously, none of this will be possible until travel to Cuba is an option.

M&T Bank of Buffalo, N.Y., had been the banker for Cuba until it decided to terminate all its embassy accounts. The State Department has said it is working to find a bank that will do business with the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and the Cuban diplomatic mission in New York.

But the Miami Herald speculated in an article that banks may not want to have the Cuban government as a client because the State Department lists Cuba as a state that sponsors terrorism, and banks that do business with those countries are subject to additional regulatory oversight and reporting requirements.

–the Hagstrom Report

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