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Engage Cuba and NCBA CLUSA Partner on U.S.-Cuban Relations

[From left: NCBA CLUSA’s VP of Advocacy Alan Knapp, COO of International Development Amy Coughenour and Program Associate Marcus Laws at the newly-reopened Cuban Embassy for an Engage Cuba event marking a year since President Obama’s historic policy shift.
NCBA CLUSA joins a growing list of trade organizations and associations partnering with Engage Cuba, a working coalition on U.S.–Cuba policy.

The partnership with Engage Cuba rallies trade associations, non-profit groups and concerned citizens for the purpose of supporting the ongoing U.S.–Cuba normalization process and enacting legislation to reform U.S. travel and trade restrictions with Cuba.

With expertise on the benefits of the cooperative business model and leadership of the U.S.-Cuba Cooperative Working Group (USCCWG), NCBA CLUSA is partnering with Engage Cuba to support the emerging cooperative sector and economy in Cuba. The Working Group’s mission is to promote mutually beneficial engagement between the U.S. and Cuba’s cooperative sectors, in an effort to promote the ongoing success of strong and vibrant cooperatives in both countries.

“We believe that working in partnership with Engage Cuba will strengthen all of our efforts to remove barriers to trade and other partnerships with our Cuban counterparts,” said Amy Coughenour Betancourt, Chief Operating Officer of NCBA CLUSA and head of the USCCWG. “Cuban cooperatives are interested in improving their businesses, creating jobs, and opening up markets on the island and with the U.S. We are here to support that.”

Attending the Engage Cuba event marking a year since President Obama’s historical policy shift at the newly reopened Cuban Embassy, NCBA CLUSA was able to meet with Cuban diplomats, including Deputy Chief of Mission, Juan Lamigueiro, opening doors to engage government institutions in cooperative workshops and events in both the U.S. and Cuba. NCBA CLUSA, through the USCCWG, works with partners at all levels from government to advocacy organizations like Engage Cuba to organizations on the ground in Cuba like SCENIUS, a financial services cooperative, in an effort to advance exchanges between the U.S. and Cuban cooperative sectors.

Cooperatives are central to Cuba’s changing economic model. The hand-over of state-run businesses to cooperative ownership could result in 20 – 30 percent of Cuba’s workers being actively involved in cooperatives, including over 8,000 restaurants to be operated as worker-owned cooperatives. By 2017, the Cuban government expects to there to be approximately 10,000 cooperatives.

The USCCWG aims to support the emerging Cuban cooperative community as the country opens to more trade. The group is also engaging the U.S. cooperative community in mutually beneficial commercial and technical exchanges that will strengthen cooperative management, governance, efficiency, and sustainability.

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