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Busines and Economy of Cuba

The mainstay of Cuba’s economy has traditionally been sugar. The plantation of sugarcane and the processing of sugar have dominated the agricultural and industrial sectors. However, the over-dependence on this one produce left the Cuban economy crippled when international sugar prices crashed in the 1980s and 90s. That prompted a serious rethink and led to economic diversification into tobacco, fisheries, nickel, medical products, coffee and citrus fruits. Agriculture is collectivised and crops are grown in huge state-owned enterprises. Other than agro based industry, there is production of cement, fertilizers, machinery, consumer goods for the domestic market and pre-fabricated buildings. Tourism has gained increased importance as a vital source of foreign exchange and the industry has received substantial government funding in recent years. Characteristically of a Communist state, all economic activity is state controlled. There is a limited amount of private enterprise where surplus production in agriculture i.e. above quota produce, can be sold at market prices, and a certain number of private enterprises have been granted licenses under which they operate.

The 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which relates to US-Cuba relations discourages foreign companies from doing business in Cuba by debarring any that do so from doing business in the US, has had an adverse effect on the Cuban economy. The collapse of the USSR and the subsequent withdrawal of Soviet subsidies also had its own impact on the economy in the last decade. But economic reforms, the opening up of the economy and steady trade relations with countries like The Netherlands, China, Argentina, Spain and Canada have served to provide some impetus to economic growth. The growth rate and inflation recorded in the year 2008 was around 4.3% and 3.4% per annum respectively.

Business Guide

The best period for business visits is the winter, from November to April. Offices are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm with an hour for lunch between 12:30 and 1:30. A few offices are open on alternate Saturdays. Make an appointment and at meetings, extend the courtesy that is regular business protocol.

The chamber of commerce, Cámara de Comercio de la República de Cuba, is located on Calle 21, No. 661/701, Esq. Calle A, Apartado 4237, Vedado, Havana. Tel: (7) 303356, fax: (7) 333042.

Conference facilities are available at centres like the Havana International Conference Centre in Havana.

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