Having served as Harvard University’s first vice provost for international affairs, former professor Dr. Jorge Dominguez has undertaken extensive research on Latin American economies. Among Dr. Jorge Dominguez’s responsibilities was as the institution’s Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico.
A recent Forbes article drew attention to the potential of Mexico’s Paris Agreement pledge to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by as much as 36 percent by 2030, as having the potential for a significant economic impact as well. This reflects World Resources Institute (WRI) quantitative analysis that points to a strong decarbonization path as saving $5 billion in cumulative costs and helping prevent 26,000 premature deaths.
A majority of the proposed decarbonization efforts are centered on Mexico’s transportation, electricity, and industrial sectors. Unfortunately, there is at present no clear decarbonization plan, and emissions in the world’s 10th leading GHG emitter are forecast to rise by 75 percent over the next three decades under business-as-usual scenarios.
Within a WRI-recommended renewable portfolio standard, Mexico will need to increase distributed solar and wind energy sources exponentially to attain its goals. Fortunately, the installation and maintenance of such large scale systems will also be a significant economic driver.
A Harvard University professor emeritus, Jorge Dominguez, PhD, has a research focus on Latin America. Speaking on his edited volume The Cuban Economy in a New Era: An Agenda for Change toward Durable Development, Dr. Jorge Dominguez brought focus to one potential pathway of growth for Cuba in boosting exports of agricultural products worldwide.
As part of a foreign direct investment (FDI)-centered effort led by President Miguel Diaz-Canel, this could bypass the trade embargo placed on it by the United States by centering on high-value Canadian and European markets. In addition, there are stateside efforts, led by organizations such as the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, underway to change the status quo.
With one-third of the island nation currently operated by private farmers, areas of Cuban export expansion potential include tropical fruits and the tobacco used in its top-quality cigars. Unfortunately, the state-owned agricultural enterprises that are a legacy of communism are not modern or efficient enough to allow major export growth to happen. For this reason, FDI needs to be sought to finance the major upgrade in equipment necessary to achieve a competitive international Cuban market presence.
Interviewed on The Cuban Economy in a New Era: An Agenda for Change toward Durable Development, a work he co-edited, Harvard professor Jorge Dominguez in July 2018 brought focus to the economic underpinnings that impelled Cuba to expand its tourism and services export sectors over the past decade. Jorge Dominguez also explored the nation’s three-decades-long efforts to create a world-class biotechnology sector.
With Cuba’s applied science program operates at the highest level, the business side of its biotech endeavors has been underwhelming. For instance, there is not enough client-informed knowledge of how to accomplish tasks such as producing deliverables on time. With efforts underway to improve business practices, whether it will ultimately be successful is still unclear.
Another major thrust in Cuba’s strategy is obtaining needed capital through attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), which was not encouraged under former president Fidel Castro. With Castro’s son Raul, his successor, having made forays into FDI, it remains to be seen whether new president Miguel Díaz-Canel can make good on his promise to accelerate FDI. Areas in which the impact could be felt significantly include agriculture and biotech, with partnerships in the latter area potentially bringing about improvements to business practices.