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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas comptroller addresses importance of US-Cuba relations

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar lectured at Thursday night’s Wiley Lecture Series event alongside Texas A&M experts to discuss the importance of maintaining relations between the United States and Cuba.
The lecture titled “A New Era: U.S.-Cuba Relations” featured Hegar and Texas A&M College of Agricultural Economics Professor and Department Head Parr Rosson, and was moderated by Associate Professor of history Jason Parker.
Rosson said agricultural trade can play a role in improving the U.S.’ overall relationship with Cuba.
“Cuba is of course very close to the United States geographically,” Rosson said. “It’s important strategically because of its position in the Florida straits. It can be a springboard for threat to the United States possibly. I think as we move forward it may be important to keep those kinds of issues in the forefront. So, the little steps we take in things like food and agriculture do contribute to the larger relationship that we have with Cuba.”
Hegar focused on Texas’ recent economic improvement despite many challenges.
“There are 12 different economic regions in Texas,” Hegar said. “A year and a half ago Texas was the twelfth largest economy in the world. We had a downturn in oil and a downturn in manufacturing, and you wonder, ‘Well are we still going to be the 12th?’ No, in fact we are now the 10th. It’s pretty remarkable.”
Hegar attributed much of Texas’ recent economic success to the state’s large number of exports.
“If you look at the 29 points of entry, Texas as a state exports more value of product than any of the other 49 states in the nation,” Hegar said. “It ends up being about 14% of our entire gross state product.”
Hegar said the potential export value with Cuba is about $4 billion in trade and exports based on comparisons to countries with similar economies to Cuba’s.
The economic success of trade with Cuba depends largely on how President Donald Trump and his cabinet members decide to handle Cuban trade, Rosson said.
“The new administration in Washington is going to review our Cuban policy from the bottom to the top,” Rosson said. “The outcome of that I can’t even dream about at night because I just don’t know. We have a new Secretary of Agriculture who is very pro-trade and is pro-trade with Cuba. On the other hand we have a president who is not so pro-trade.”
Hegar said he would not attempt to predict what Washington’s stance will be on Cuban trade.
“When I walked in here I didn’t see anything on the president’s Twitter account that talked about Cuba, so until he tweets about that I don’t know what to think,” Hegar said. “If you look at his policies, from my own opinion, they have to do with war related and border security as well as the exportation of jobs and manufacturing. Cuba doesn’t necessarily fit into either of those categories.”
Rebecca Matlock, chair of the MSC Wiley Lecture Series, said knowing about the potential possibilities for Cuban trade is important for students to understand.
“I think the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba will affect us in any career we might take,” Matlock said. “We hope to bring a different topic to students that they may not hear about all the time, particularly in a classroom. That’s really the goal of our organization, to talk about things that aren’t necessarily talked about in the classroom and to help them learn about things that they may hear about in the news from experts in those topics.”
MSC Wiley Lecture Series director of symposium Meghan Collier said this lecture has changed her perspective of the future of U.S. and Cuban trade relations.
“I’ve learned more about what it will really take for the U.S. to get involved in Cuba,” Collier said. “Before I thought it was just a matter of policy, but it is so much more than that. It’s more of a frame work that needs to be developed.”

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