Roll-back of Cuba policies will hurt Louisiana’s economy, report says

Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

With President Donald Trump reportedly poised to reverse Obama-era policies aimed at normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations, a coalition of business groups and economists warns Louisiana would be disproportionately be affected by new regulations on travel and trade to the island nation. 

A new report from the Engage Cuba Louisiana State Council says the reversal of former President Barack Obama’s Cuba policies would cost the U.S. economy $6.6 billion and 12,295 jobs over the next four years—and that’s not counting the hit U.S. agriculture would take. When agriculture is factored in, the potential losses rise to $8.1 billion and 14,500 jobs.

“Louisiana would be disproportionately affected by a roll back of Cuba policy given its deep water ports and reliance on agriculture, manufacturing and shipping industries,” the coalition says in a prepared statement.

The report doesn’t specifically say how much money and jobs Louisiana stands to lose out on. 

“Our new relationship with Cuba has led to tangible results for Louisiana companies, created jobs across the state, and strengthened Cuba’s growing private sector,” Engage Cuba President James Williams says in a prepared statement. 

Citing human rights abuses, Trump is reportedly considering terminating Obama’s signature policies meant to ease diplomatic tensions between the two countries, including reinstating restrictions on travel and commerce. 

Rolling back the policies also would mean that Trump would keep a promise he made on the campaign trail, but Williams says it would come at a great cost to Louisiana. 

“If President Trump rolled back our Cuba policy, he would add job-killing government regulations on Louisiana businesses,” his statement continues. “This directly conflicts with President Trump’s campaign promises of removing onerous regulations and red tape on U.S. businesses. Reimposing restrictions on traveling to Cuba would force Louisianans to jump through even more bureaucratic hoops to exercise their right to travel freely.”