U.S. – Cuba Detente: Havana Rough Time?

By Shannon Togawa Mercer

In his Saturday address to the United Nations General Assembly, Cuban President, Raul Castro, highlighted the continued detrimental impact of the U.S. Trade Embargo. Castro estimated an aggregate $121 billion in damages to the Cuban economy. While President Obama has taken steps to liberalize trade, only Congress can lift the embargo. The U.N. General Assembly has urged the U.S. to end the embargo on an annual basis since 1992, when it adopted a resolution expressing its disapproval. The General Assembly isn’t alone. Companies such as Cargill, Proctor & Gamble, Caterpillar, Shell Oil and Chevron are lobbying Capitol Hill for further liberalization. Surprisingly, of all the horses in this race, Arkansas’ is chomping at the bit. Governor Asa Hutchinson, in anticipation of the decreased trade barriers and availability of financing opportunities, hopes to increase Arkansas’ agricultural exports to Cuba. He travels to Cuba today as a part of a trade mission.