A bioeconomic model for estimating potential economic damages from a hypothetical Asian beetle introduced via future trade with Cuba
Although present United States (U.S.) policy restricts very nearly all Cuban commercial exports to the U.S., there is potential for the restrictions to be relaxed or perhaps even lifted at some point in the future. In light of the potential increased trade with Cuba, the potential arrival of invasive species such as bark beetles and ambrosia beetles—particularly from Asia via Cuban imports—could represent a serious threat for the southern U.S. forestlands. We develop a bioeconomic model that estimates potential economic damages to southern pine forests caused by the hypothetical introduction of an unknown Asian bark or ambrosia beetle via future trade with Cuba for the study period 2018–2050. We examine individual policies and combinations of them that could be considered in response to this hypothetical situation. Using the pre-revolution Cuban level of imports, the economic damages in absence of “any policy or management action” could reach $2.44 million ($76,250/year). These damages could be reduced to between $469,000 ($14,656/year) and $1.02 million ($31,875/year) if a risk mitigation policy (forest thinning) were implemented. When prevention polices are considered as the baseline, the risk mitigation policy (combined with prevention) is again observed to be the dominant policy. The differences between the various combinations with respect to the prevention policy are relatively minor ranging between $856,000 ($26,750/year) and $1.30 million ($40,635/year). These findings should be interpreted with caution given the limited amount of empirical data and policy assumptions, but they nonetheless can inform policy choices related to trade, pests, and Cuba.