An Opening for Obama on Cuba Trade?

We have certainly been critical of President Obama’s bailouts and his interventionist federal policies, but he has a real opportunity now to bring another nation, Cuba, into the fold as a trading partner. This opportunity is something Obama can take credit for and following through on the logical next step, eliminating the US trade embargo and travel ban would strike a blow for freedom.
Obama has already taken a small step by allowing U.S. telecommunications firms to start providing service for Cubans and ending limits on family travel and money transfers by Cuban Americans in the United States to Cuba. These are good moves, but I am hoping for real change in our Cuba policy from Obama that would finally restore Americans’ legal right to visit and trade with Cubans.
Such a move would have the following impacts according to recent studies:

— Embargo costs the U.S. between $3 and $4 billion in lost exports per year. (Preeg, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1998.)
–Lifting sanctions on agricultural exports to Cuba for the 50 states and 22 commodity sectors, will result in increases in exports of $1.2 billion per year. (Rosson and Adcock, Texas A&M University, 2001)
–Such increase in exports would stimulate an additional $3.6 billion in total economic output and 31,262 new jobs in the U.S. labor market. (Ibid,Rosson, 2001)

Obama’s top economic advisor, Larry Summers, says trade liberalization with Cuba is “a long way off.” Hopefully he is merely posturing and that Obama turns out to be a free trader in a way that his predecessors going all the way back to Eisenhower were not. Nonetheless, it is one issue on which free market advocates can be cautiously optimistic relative to Obama’s policies.