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Analysis on US and Cuban Trade Relations: A Broader Embargo

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            United States and Cuban businesses have suffered losses alike through loss of potential markets and investing grounds due to the trade embargo. The case study on United States and Cuban trade relations exhibits the common aspects of international trade that are likely to be faced by different countries in their efforts to work together. While dealing with international trade, matters of political, legal and institutional nature come into play and these influence how countries relate with each other in trade (Trebilcock et al, 1990). The sanctions put by U.S on Cuba were meant to discourage trade between the two countries and the embargo in particular was meant to isolate Cuba and is more like trade warfare. United States seems to be reluctant to have trade relations with Cuba especially due to the fact that Cuba supported terrorism, the level of repression within Cuba and poor human rights concern.

It however seems unfair on America’s side because it has not done the same on other countries with worse human right records such as China. The signing of the Torricelli act is highly surrounded by political agendas. In this act, it is possible that Bush was trying to win the favor of Cuban-Americans based in Florida so as to increase his chances of winning the elections. The fact that the U.S advocated for the defeat of Fidel Castro because his country was not exercising democracy as stated in the 1992 Cuban democracy Act goes on to show politics involved in the embargo. According to Trebilcock (1990), the ban seems to have sparked a political tag of war with various events happening between U.S and Cuba. Such include Cuba expropriating property of U.S nationals in Cuba, The Cuban missile crisis and the plane tragedy involving Cuban exiles. These happenings only posed to put strains in the US-Cuban relations making it harder for them to strike a consensus and resume trade with one another.

            The embargo caused a considerable tilt in the world economy with most countries losing heavy investments. Cuba claims that it suffered at least $41 billion during the thirty five year embargo while the U.S lost about $30 billion in exports. The helms-Burton Act passed in 1996 prohibiting the American Citizens from engaging in trade in Cuba or with any business related to Cuba caused big losses to many companies citing the example of Sherritt International. By 1982 the government of Cuba is said to have lost approximately 28,680 million dollars as a result of losses in market.

            In enacting the Helms-Burton law the government of US applied coercion to make American firms exit the Cuban market. US prohibited any goods related to trade from Cuba should to be restricted from the US port with huge fines to any wrong doers. The officials of Cuban based firms were kept hostage when the state prohibited their movement and that of their family members to the US as in the case of Sherritt International. While the US law prohibits an embargo between it and other countries, it allows for embargo on third party countries related to the US in some way (Haney and Vanderbush, 2005). Because of this, the embargo not only affected Cuba but also affected other countries like Canada which operated in Cuba as they could not support Cuba and at the same time support U.S.

            The embargo seems to have helped Cuba to gain international support as most countries did not support the idea. Canada and Mexico wanted to support Cuba to gain democracy and at the same time maintain trade after both countries signed a law opposing the Helmes-Burton law prohibiting their officials from siding with U.S on the act (Osieja, 2006). The Castro government on realizing the effort to reconcile with U.S was unbecoming; they established new ties with France, Japan and Argentina especially to help in recovery from the effects of Hurricane Lili that destroyed the sugarcane crop.

            The embargo has faced a lot of opposition as it has caused significant economic strains, loss of markets and restriction to movement (Osieja, 2006). Criticism of US discrimination against Cuba because of its poor human rights and democracy records called for solutions through dialogue instead of isolation. U.S stands to gain by loosening the embargo and so will Cuba. It is a win win situation as Canada puts it.


Haney, J. P & Vanderbush, W. (2005). The Cuban Embargo: The Domestic Politics of an American       Foreign Policy. Pittsburgh, U.S: Univ of Pittsburgh Press.

Osieja, H. (2006). Economic Sanctions as an Instrument of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Case of the U.S.    Embargo Against Cuba. New York: Universal-Publishers

Trebilcock, M. J. et al. (1990). Trade and Transitions: A Comparative Analysis of Adjustment Policies.   US: Routledge

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