On January 30, 2015, the U.S. International Trade Commission launched a study on the economic effects of current U.S. trade and travel restrictions on U.S. trade with Cuba.  The study was requested in December by then-Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Senator Ron Wyden in connection with President Obama’s announcement of a change in direction in U.S. policy toward Cuba.

In his letter requesting the study, Senator Wyden announced his intent to “gain a better understanding of the economic effects on exports of U.S. goods and services, including digitally traded goods and services, of statutory and administrative restrictions related to trade with and travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens.”  The ITC’s study, he said, “will provide a foundation for re-evaluating the current U.S. economic relationship with Cuba.”

The ITC is an independent, nonpartisan federal agency tasked with providing objective fact-finding and analyses on matters related to tariffs and trade.  It will conduct an investigation, No. 332-552, under section 332(g) of the Tariff Act of 1930, and prepare a report for the Senate Finance Committee addressing:

1.   an overview of Cubas imports of goods and services from, to the extent possible, 2005 to the present, including identification of major supplying countries, products, and market segments;

 2.   a description of how U.S. restrictions on trade, including those relating to export financing terms and travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens, affect Cuban imports of U.S. goods and services; and

 3.   for sectors where the impact is likely to be significant, a qualitative and, to the extent possible, quantitative estimate of U.S. exports of goods and services to Cuba, in the event that statutory, regulatory, or other trade restrictions on U.S. exports of goods and services as well as travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens are lifted.

The report will also include, to the extent possible, state-specific analysis of the impacts described above.

In connection with its investigation, the ITC plans to hold a public hearing on March 24, 2015.  Any person or entity wishing to appear at the hearing should file a request with the Secretary to the Commission no later than March 10, 2015.  The ITC will also accept written submissions through March 31, 2015.

The ITC will deliver its report to the Committee no later than September 15, 2015.  The Committee has indicated that it plans to make the report public to inform the evolving policy debate on U.S. trade with Cuba.