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By Robert Donachie
The U.S. economy could lose thousands of jobs and billions in revenue if America reverses course with former President Barack Obama’s Cuba policies, according to a report released Thursday by Engage Cuba.
President Donald Trump is slated to announce a rollback of Obama’s Cuba policies, but the timing of the announcement remains unknown. The president hinted in a 2015 interview with The Daily Caller that opening trade relations with Cuba is “fine,” but would consider terminating deals the Obama administration struck with Cuba. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Trump Set To Roll Back Obama’s Cuba Policies)
Rolling back regulations with Cuba would cost the U.S. 12,295 jobs over the Trump’s first term in office and would cost businesses and taxpayers over $6 billion, the report finds. Engage Cuba did not include U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba in its estimates. Including agricultural exports, the U.S. stands to lose 14,500 jobs and $8.1 billion in revenue.
Communities reliant on agricultural, manufacturing and shipping industries would incur the greatest job losses from reversing course with Obama’s policies.
“If President Trump rolled back our Cuba policy, he would actually be adding job-killing government regulations on U.S. businesses. This would create, not eliminate arbitrary government red tape,” President of Engage Cuba James Williams said in a statement released to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Reimposing restrictions on traveling to Cuba would force Americans to jump through even more bureaucratic hoops to exercise their right to travel freely.”
The airline and cruise ship industries would lose an estimated 10,154 jobs and in excess of $3 billion in revenue over the next four years. The U.S. manufacturing industry, an industry where Trump has repeatedly pledged to save jobs, stands to lose 1,343 jobs and nearly $875 million in lost revenue.
New regulations imposed on agricultural exports could cost an additional 2,205 jobs and $1.5 billion.
Cubans living in the U.S. send up to $4 billion back to the island of Cuba in the form of remittance payments every year. American lending and exchange companies stand to lose $1.2 billion in easily earned revenue if the U.S. cuts diplomatic relations with Cuba, the report finds.
Obama unexpectedly announced in December 2014 that the U.S. would establish diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time since 1961. The Obama administration followed the announcement with a series of regulatory and diplomatic changes that allowed U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba and purchase some Cuban products, like rum and cigars.
“How sadly ironic and short-sighted it would be if, soon after singing the praises of the repressive leaders of Russia, Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, President Trump were to return to a failed 55-year-old policy of sanctions and ultimatums against tiny Cuba,” Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said in a statement released to TheDCNF.
The president campaigned on saving American jobs and putting “America First.” Continuing U.S.-Cuban relationship appears to be a way to both increase U.S. employment and federal revenue.