UK government lobbied over blockade

Campaign News | Sunday, 30 March 2008

In March, a delegation met with Gareth Thomas MP to discuss the US blockade of Cuba and extraterritorial effects upon UK companies.

Mr Thomas is the Government Minister with responsibility in this area at the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. (BERR)

The delegation included Ian Gibson MP, Graham Goddard, Deputy General Secretary, Unite the Union and Rob Miller, Director, Cuba Solidarity Campaign

Ian Gibson had previously tabled EDM 1408 on the issue of Barclays bank and the closure of two UK based Cuban company's accounts. The EDM was eventually signed by 160 MPs from all parties.

The delegation raised the concerns that the US was creating an environment which had seen UK-Cuba trade decline by 45% between 2000 and 2006. A series of US actions and statements has led to major UK based companies such as Hilton and Barclays into taking actions that have undermined bilateral trading relations.

The frank but friendly discussions focussed around ways in which the UK could help promote better trading opportunities for UK and Cuban companies. The delegation raised the need for the UK Government to counteract US efforts which were clearly aimed at stopping UK based companies from going about their lawful trade with Cuba.

Mr Thomas reiterated his Government's desire to see UK trade with Cuba develop and promised to do all he could to further this agenda. CSC will continue to press for real action by the UK Government in this area.

Commenting on the meeting Rob Miller, CSC Director said:

"The Government should publicly pledge support for businesses in the UK whose perfectly lawful links with Cuba are put under pressure and, at the same time they should warn businesses, like Barclays, against surrogate transmission of US pressure onto others. There should be no protection for the bully's mate. We are optimistic that this meeting and continued lobbying will result in some positive and concrete action by the Government in this area."

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