U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.) is not enthused about trade with Cuba. He says Cuba is as communist as ever, whereas China has made free-market reforms. “Our exports from Illinois to China have been going up like 10, 15 percent a year,” he said. “When you look at the politics of China, I would say it plays in Peoria. People in Peoria who are very linked to Caterpillar, they understand just how much Caterpillar winning contracts against a Komatsu in China are important to their future.”
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He also notes that Cuba has a gross domestic product of $68 billion, whereas China’s is $9.2 trillion, so it’s easier to stand on principle against Cuba. He says Cuba might buy some agricultural commodities, but is mostly too poor to be a good customer.
President Obama announced the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba, but lifting the 1960 trade embargo will require an act of Congress.