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Evaluating Cuba's potential as a trade partner

Evaluating Cuba's potential as a trade partner
Webinar looks at the opportunities offered with the potential of trade restrictions being lifted to the island nation.

While trade once flourished with Cuba, those days are in the distant past. At its peak the island nation was a leading market for U.S. exports of agricultural commodities, including rice, lard, pork and wheat flour.

When Fidel Castro took power, that trade went away as the U.S. implemented a wide-ranging trade embargo. While it has loosened in the past, bringing some trade-based interludes to the embargo, broader trade may be nearing as President Obama works to open borders between the two countries.

As trade opens with Cuba, what are the opportunities? A new webinar explores the options for trading with this country (shown here celebrading the arrival of the Pope). (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty)

Now that President Obama has announced a new direction for U.S. policy on trade with Cuba, what’s the outlook for increasing shipments of those and other agricultural commodities from the U.S. to Cuba’s ports?

That will be the subject of the next in the University of Arkansas’ Food and Agribusiness Webinar Series, “U.S.-Cuba Agricultural Trade: Past, Present and Possible Future.” Presenters for the webinar will be Nathan Childs and Stephen Zahniser, agricultural economists with USDA’s Economic Research Service.

To register for the webinar, which will begin at 2 p.m., Wednesday, (Oct. 28), attendees should visit To register for the webinar, would-be attendees should go to:

“Although challenges persist, recent changes in U.S. policy open the possibility of expanding U.S.-Cuban trade for several commodities,” says Bobby Coats, professor of economics and agribusiness at the University of Arkansas and moderator for the webinar series. “Our presenters will be taking an in-depth look at the past, present and possible future of the topic.”

Dr. Zahniser’s current research focuses on border processes and procedures affecting U.S.-Mexico agricultural trade, the linkages between agricultural trade and employment in the U.S. economy, and the outlook for the integrated U.S.-Mexico market for sugar and other sweeteners.

He received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Master’s degrees in Latin American studies and public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in political science from Northwestern University.

Dr. Childs is a senior economist with USDA’s Economic Research Service. He is responsible for ERS’s domestic and global rice outlook program, routinely working with a multi-agency committee to develop monthly supply and use estimates. He writes a monthly Rice Outlook Report, updates Yearbook Tables, makes numerous outlook presentations, and has participated in several internationally-focused research projects. He has a PH.D. in Applied Economics from Clemson University, Masters in Security Studies from Georgetown, and a B.S. in Economics from Clemson University. Nathan was in the South Carolina Army National Guard in the 1980s.

To read more about the University of Arkansas Webinar Series, visit Food and Agribusiness Webinar Homepage. Farm Futures Senior Market Analyst has participated in past webinars with this group – check out his discussion of volatile world markets and crop profit potential in 2016.

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