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Klobuchar proposes open trade with Cuba, sees it as a boon for MN

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Amy Klobuchar is something of a mini celebrity in Cuba.

The second-term Minnesota senator, who just wrapped up a four-day visit to the island, said people recognized her as she walked down the streets, the Washington Post reports.

Why?

Well it has to do with legislation she introduced last week: a bill that would end the half-century-long trade embargo and open up the business channels between the U.S. and Cuba.

Klobuchar's proposal was celebrated with front-page stories in the Caribbean nation, the Post says. And as the sponsor of the bill, Klobuchar became a face and name to know.

"They had seen my picture in the news. It was a big deal for them," she said, according to USA Today.

It came about two months after President Barack Obama announced loosened restrictions for cooperation between the two countries.

"It’s time to the turn the page on our Cuba policy," Klobuchar said in a statement. "There are many issues in our relationship with Cuba that must be addressed, but this legislation to lift the embargo will begin to open up new opportunities for American companies, boost job creation and exports, and help improve the quality of life for the Cuban people."

Will Minnesota benefit?

With those open channels come opportunities for economic growth, even for a state 1,600 miles away: Minnesota.

The Star Tribune reports the North Star State currently exports about $20 million worth of products per year to Cuba, due to a humanitarian waiver – but Klobuchar expects that to double if trade opens up.

Private businesses expressed similar expectations when Obama's maneuver was first announced.

In total, the U.S. exported $350 million in agriculture products to Cuba, according to figures from 2013.

Klobuchar's bill has five co-sponsors – three Democrats and two Republicans. She was joined in Cuba by two other Congressmen, both Democrats: Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Mark Warner of Virginia.

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