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Cuba Archive - Updating Cuba's Economy

Conceptualización del Modelo Económico y Social Cubano de Desarrollo Socialista; Proyecto Plan Nacional de Desarrollo, Económico y Social hasta 2030

(As presented to the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, April 2016)

Updating Cuba's Economy Image

This document, presented to the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in April 2016, outlines the goals and values of Cuba's socialist socio-economic model of development and the National Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030. It emphasizes the importance of creating a prosperous socialist society that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable and committed to the ethical, cultural and political values forged by the Revolution. It also details the pillars of the National Economic and Social Development Plan and specific policy objectives to complete said plan. The 2030 Vision Plan is also included, which has a focus on economic expansion and diversification for the nation. (Available in Spanish).

Link to full text via Congreso PCC

Raúl Presents Central Report to Congress

By National News Staff (Granma, April 17, 2016)

This article discusses President Raúl Castro's presentation of the Central Report of the 7th PCC Congress in April of 2016. President Castro highlighted the specific aspects of the report which discuss the importance of conceptualizing the Cuban socio-economic model, unification of the country's dual currency, the creation of the Special Development Zone of Mariel, and the new Foreign Investment Law (Lay 118). Castro also outlines the several components and deliverables of the 7th PCC Congress including the presentation of four principle documents including the conceptualization of the socio-economic model, the development plan through 2030, a report on the implementation of the previous party Guidelines and plans for updated said Guidelines, as well as an analysis of Party objective approved by the First National Party Conference.

Link to full text via Granma

The Blockade is the Most Serious Obstacle to Our Economic Development and the Welfare of the Cuban People

By Raúl Castro (Granma, March 24, 2016)

This article presents the full text of a statement given to the press by President Raúl Castro during the visit of President Obama to Cuba. Castro lists the concrete advances made by both countries in the 15 months since normalization was announced, and mentions some issues still being negotiated. Yet Castro's speech also emphasizes the two greatest obstacles towards fully normalizing relations: the U.S. embargo (or blockade) and the U.S. occupation of Guantánamo Bay. Castro urges Obama to continue to do everything in his power to end the embargo while pledging Cuban support to "practice the art of civilized coexistence" with the United States.

Link to full text via Granma

Cuban Economy Grows 4%

By Leticia Martínez Hernández (Granma, December 22, 2015)

In this article, Martínez Hernández summarizes the topics discussed at a December 2015 Council of Ministers meeting in Havana. She emphasizes the 4% growth of the Cuban economy, as well as the growth in the country's GDP from 59.3 to 61.1%. The article also discusses in detail the 2016 Cuban State Budget, the new salary payment system (Resolution No. 17), and the impact of the annual drought on the economy, society, and environment.

Link to full text via Granma


Cuban Farmers in "Agony" Waiting for Promised Reforms, By Marc Frank

(Reuters, April 14, 2016)

In this article, Cuban farmers express their frustration about what they view as governmental "backsliding" on market reforms promised during the Communist Party Congress in 2011. Issues that complicate farming in Cuba include the government's monopoly on distributing fuel, fertilizer, and seeds; price controls that mean farmers may sell at a loss; lack of wholesale markets; consecutive droughts; and fallow fields due to government failure to provide adequate inputs.

Link to full text via Reuters

U.S.-Cuba Agricultural Trade: Past, Present, and Possible Future

By Steven Zahniser and Bryce Cooke (United States Department of Agriculture, August 2015)

Establishment of a more normal economic relationship with Cuba could foster additional growth in U.S.-Cuba agricultural trade by promoting greater productivity in the Cuban economy; increasing demand for agricultural imports among Cuban consumers, food service providers, and food manufacturers; and providing the policy and legal framework for the resumption of U.S. agricultural imports from Cuba. The executive actions announced in December 2014, however, only constitute a small step in the direction of normal trade relations between the two countries. Over the next fifteen years, the challenge will be to provide more balanced opportunities for U.S.-Cuba agricultural trade and to continue to build confidence in the emerging bilateral commercial relationship.

Link to full text via the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Viva la Revolución: Cuban Farmers Re-gain Control Over Land

By Alexa van Sickle (The Guardian, March 11, 2014)

Cuba still imports the majority of its domestic food requirement, making it vulnerable to price increases, changes in food supply and the impacts of natural disasters. Although President Raúl Castro has made food security a priority for the island nation since 2007, agriculture in Cuba remains in crisis. A government report issued in July 2013 showed that productivity had not increased. But valuable lessons can be learned from successful cooperatives and farming initiatives.

Link to full text via The Guardian


Cuba Reports Little Progress Five Years into Agricultural Reform

By Marc Frank (Reuters, July 30, 2013)

According to a recent government report, agriculture in Cuba remains in crisis and the country is still dependent on imports five years into Raul Castro's presidency and despite efforts to reform the sector. The socialist nation is investing in some crops to reduce imports and others to boost exports, even as it gradually loosens the state's grip on all food production and distribution in favor of individual initiative and the law of the market.

Link to full text via Reuters

Reforming Cuban Agriculture: Unfinished Business 

By Philip Peters (Lexington Institute, October 2012)

This study traces the history of Cuban agricultural reform from its first efforts in the mid-twentieth century to modern attempts by Raúl Castro. Reform is key to improving the Cuban economy, which relies heavily on importing food. Changes to agricultural policy have not proved to be effective, so this article considers why this is the case and what further efforts can be made to mediate the situation.

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The Paradox of Cuban Agriculture

By Miguel A. Altieri and Fernando R. Funes-Monzote (Monthly Review, January 1, 2012)

When Cuba faced the shock of lost trade relations with the Soviet bloc in the early 1990s, food production initially collapsed due to the loss of imported fertilizers, pesticides, tractors, parts, and petroleum. But the island rapidly reoriented its agriculture to depend less on imported synthetic chemical inputs, and became a world-class case of ecological agricultural. Perhaps the most important changes occurred among small private farmers who in 2006 produced over 65 percent of the country's foods although they controlled only 25 percent of agricultural land. However, there remains the "Cuban agriculture paradox": if agroecological advances in the country are so great, why does Cuba still import substantial amounts of food?

Link to full text via Monthly Review

U.S. Agricultural Sales to Cuba: Certain Economic Effects of U.S. Restrictions

(United States International Trade Commission, July 2007)

This report analyzes Cuban purchases of U.S. agricultural products, the role of government restrictions in preventing the purchase and sale of Cuban products, and the potential increase in exports that would result from lifting the travel ban and embargo. Considering a variety of scenarios, this report indicates that "all agricultural sectors would likely benefit from the lifting of financing restrictions" on U.S. exports to Cuba.

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U.S. Agricultural Coalition for Cuba

The U.S. Agricultural Coalition believes that the improvement of agricultural trade between the U.S. and Cuba is the foundation for building successful and enduring relations between both countries. Their goals include advancing a constructive dialogue in the United States on U.S.-Cuba relations, engaging to end the long-standing embargo, and explaining the moral imperative of liberalizing trade between the two countries.

Link to U.S. Agricultural Coalition website

Currency Reform

The Cuban Money Crisis: The Biggest Change to the Island's Economy Isn't the Thaw in U.S.-Cuba Relations

By Patrick Symmes (Bloomberg Business, April 1, 2015)

In this article, Symmes discusses the phasing out of the dual currency system in Cuba. The CUC, a convertible currency pegged to the dollar and reserved for use by tourists, will be invalidated through an incremental process over the course of 2015. In addition to the phasing out of the CUC, new monetary reforms by the government of Raul Castro will also include the regular Cuban peso becoming exchangeable and floated against a basket of five currencies including the yuan, the euro, and the U.S. dollar.

Link to full text via Bloomberg Business

Monetary Reform in Cuba Until 2016: Between Gradualism and the "Big Bang"

By Pavel Vidal Alejandro and Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva (Brookings Institution, 2014)

In La Reforma Monetaria en Cuba Hasta el 2016: Entre Gradualidad y "Big Bang" (Monetary Reform in Cuba Until 2016: Between Gradualism and the "Big Bang"), Pavel Vidal Alejandro and Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva analyze the benefits and costs of the eventual devaluation of the official exchange rate for the Cuban peso, the main measure the Cuban government will employ to achieve the goal of monetary unification in 2016. Possible policy responses and alternatives regarding devaluation of the exchange rate are evaluated. The authors conclude that, as far as is possible, the best strategy for the Cuban currency reform is a gradual devaluation and not the application of a "big bang" approach. However, given the huge gap between the multiple exchange rates, sharp depreciation in the value of the Cuban peso will be required over time. (Paper available in Spanish)

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Private Sector Reform and Small Business

Supporting Cuba's Nascent Private Sector

By the Office of the Spokesperson (Department of State, February 13, 2015)

This media note affirms that the "empowering of the Cuban people and Cuban civil society is central" to the State Department's approach to Cuba. Recent regulatory changes — like allowing Americans to send "unlimited remittances to individual Cubans in support of private businesses and independent non-governmental organizations" — will help Cuban entrepreneurs and the private sector. The note also announces the publication of the "Section 515.582 List," which characterizes goods and services produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs that may be imported into the United States.

Link to full text via the U.S. Department of State

Updating Cuba's Economic Model

By Dr. Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva (Cuba Study Group, 2015)

This article emphasizes the need to solve pre-existing structural problems that inhibit the possibility of growth for Cuba and have historically lead to the deterioration of economic indicators in the country. Pérez Villanueva argues for an internal transformation of the Cuban economic system that calls for greater autonomy and export-oriented growth similar to the experiences of China and other South-east Asian countries, while still maintaining a centrally-planned system.

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Soft Landing in Cuba?: Emerging Entrepreneurs and Middle Classes

By Richard Feinberg (Brookings Institution, November 2013)

A dynamic, independent private sector is rapidly emerging in Cuba, despite the dominance of the state-run socialist system. The private sector is quickly absorbing workers laid off from the state, enlarging the middle class and defining a new Cuba. The old narrative - that Fidel and Raul Castro had to pass from the scene before real change could occur - has been discredited by these current trends. In this paper, Feinberg discusses, the history of emerging private enterprise in Cuba, case studies of the challenges entrepreneurs face in launching and expanding their operations, and recommendations on what the Cuban and U.S. governments can do to can cultivate a more inclusive economy, bringing prosperity to the wider population.

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Cuba's Entrepreneurs: Foundation of a New Private Sector

By Philip Peters (Lexington Institute, July 2012)

This article examines the history and future of Cuba's entrepreneurial sector in the face of recent reforms encouraging economic growth through small businesses. In an effort to cut costs and boost economic productivity, the Cuban government has supported entrepreneurs and the creation of a non-state sector that will incorporate all of the new businesses being created. The article also includes suppositions about what new industries could emerge in Cuba's socialist economy based on this new legislation.

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Supporting Small Business in Cuba: Recommendations for Private and Public Sector Leaders

(Cuba Study Group, April 2011)

This document, which originated as a working paper from a summit on economic development in Cuba, explores how small businesses can help the Cuban economy grow to the benefit of both private and public sectors. Based on the actions of similar governments like Bolivia, China, Vietnam, and Singapore, it outlines ideas and plans to encourage the development and success of small business in Cuba for optimal economic expansion. It also encourages the U.S. to reform its economic policy toward Cuba for the benefit both countries.

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A Socialist Economy in Transition

Inequality Becomes More Visible in Cuba as the Economy Shifts

By Randal C. Archibold (New York Times, February 24, 2015)

As private enterprise is gradually encouraged on the island, and as U.S.-Cuban normalization has led to an increase in remittances from the United States to Cuba, inequality has grown more visible on the island. In this article, Archibold cautions that despite official rhetoric (from both the United States and Cuba) claiming that pro-private enterprise economic changes are intended to bring more prosperity to all Cubans, in reality there is a growing divide among those with access to capital and those without. This divide is especially felt by Afro-Cubans, who despite government services in education and social welfare, continue to see their living conditions deteriorate while white Cubans are more likely to benefit from the new economic changes. Archibold explores the nuances of growing social inequality, proving that both the normalization of relations and the economic changes on the island have exposed deeper issues that Cuba must face.

Link to full text via New York Times

Can Cuba's Reforms Succeed?

By Carmelo Mesa-Lago (Americas Quarterly, November 6, 2014)

Mesa-Lago analyzes the seven principal reforms underway in the Cuban economy: 1) updating the existing economic model; 2) distribution of idle state land; 3) dismissal of unneeded state employees and expansion of non-state jobs; 4) wages, social services and rationing; 5) housing purchase and sale; 6) foreign investment; and 7) unification of the dual currency. He concludes that, overall, current reforms have advanced further than previous attempts, but still "failed to generate the economic growth the country needs." He advocates for more accelerated and comprehensive reforms.

Link to full text via Americas Quarterly

Cuba's Economic Change in Comparative Perspective

By Richard Feinberg and Ted Piccone (Brookings Institution, November 2014)

A collection of six papers authored by Cuban and international economists, Cuba's Economic Change in Comparative Perspective explores Cuba's decades-old economic crisis from its roots in Soviet-era central planning to the present day's mixed market socialism, while also assessing reforms undertaken by Raúl Castro and recommending steps (including transparency and consistency) that Cuba and the international community can take to overcome the crisis.

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Cuba: Reforming the Economy and Opening Society

By Wolf Grabendorff (NOREF-Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, September 11, 2014)

This report talks of the internal and external adaptations that Cuba is making in order to sustain its economic and political model, including the formation of new alliances and approval of limited political and travel reforms. Although such measures have allowed Cubans to interact more with the Cuban community abroad, Grabendorff opines that the long-term success of reform measures may depend on Cuba's ability to reintegrate with the global North.

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Transformaciones Económicas y Cambios Institucionales en Cuba

By Antonio F. Romero Gómez (Brookings Institution, August 2014)

In Economic Transformation and Institutional Change in Cuba, Antonio Romero, a Cuban academic at the University of Havana who specializes in international economy, analyzes the economic and institutional changes that have occurred in Cuba in recent years (2011-2014). He raises some of the most important institutional challenges facing Cuban society today -including excessive gradualism of the reforms- and highlights what remains to be done in this respect in the reform process. Editor's note: This paper is currently only available in Spanish. The English translation is forthcoming.

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Cuba After Communism: The Economic Reforms That are Transforming the Island

By Julia E. Sweig and Michael Bustamante (Foreign Affairs, July/August 2013)

In this article, authors Sweig and Bustamante consider Raúl Castro's efforts at opening Cuba and reforming its economy. They argue that migration reform, a newly progressive tax code, and the government's new acceptance of small businesses indicate that the nation is strategically opening its doors to greater domestic and international opportunity. They also consider how these seemingly positive efforts may affect the still-closed political system.

Link to full text via Council on Foreign Relations

Socialism with Cuban Characteristics: Part I

By William M. LeoGrande (World Politics Review, April 2013)

From the World Politics Review, this editorial examines Cuba's economic reforms following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It considers much of the legislation that has been put in place since Raúl Castro has been in power, which has deregulated the Cuban economy and increased opportunities for a private sector. It also details what problems still stand in the way of remedying the nation's economic troubles.

Link to full text via World Politics Review

Socialism with Cuban Characteristics: Part II

By William M. LeoGrande (World Politics Review, April 2013)

This continuation of the previous editorial moves beyond what already has been done and considers what now should be done to aid the ailing Cuban economy. It also considers the political ramifications of economic reform and whether or not it will lead to democratization or, instead, will cause further disillusionment among the Cuban people.

Link to full text via World Politics Review

Cuba, Updating the Model Balance and Perspectives of Socialist Transitions

Coordinated by Rafael Hernández and Jorge I. Domínguez (David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Harvard, 2013)

This document summarizes the workshop "Cuba: Updating the Model," which took place in Washington D.C. and Havana on June 2, 2013. The workshop brought together 15 Cuban, U.S., and European scholars to discuss the roots, characteristics and impact of what the Cuban government calls the "updating" of its policies on the island. It sought to address the changes in a systematic and interconnected manner not limited to an economic overview, inquiring also into the effects and dynamics that such reforms entail; the changes to Cuban society; and the international context.

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A Viewer's Guide to Cuba's Economic Reform

By Philip Peters (Lexington Institute, May 2012)

In this article, Philip Peters clarifies what economic work is being done in Cuba and what the outside world can and cannot expect as a consequence. He explains that socialism in the country is not being eliminated, but redefined to increase private initiative and boost the weak economy. He also gives recommendations for what the government must do to continue to support growth, including how it must politically evolve.

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Reaching Out: Cuba's New Economy and the International Response

By Richard Feinberg (Brookings Institution, November 2011)

From the Brookings Institution, this report details how Cuba has expanded its international relations and recovered much of its global presence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a result, it has become a magnet for foreign investment, but much of the money that should be increasing the economy's productivity is being halted by an outdated economic model. This report considers how much of the world is aiding Cuba, but because it is shut out of the IMF and World Bank, it cannot truly reform its economic structure.

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Trade & Foreign Investment

Google Wants to Improve Internet Access in Cuba, but Talks are in 'Early Stage'

By Miguel Helft (Forbes, March 21, 2016)

In this article, Helft sheds light on the talks between Cuban officials and representatives from Google to bring better telecom infrastructure and internet connectivity to the island. While the talks took place over a serious of semi-official meetings, the author notes that President Obama's March 2016 visit to the island confirmed Google's ventures on the island and hinted that WiFi and broadband access are key parts of Google's plan, pending, of course, official Cuban engagement with the company. The article concludes with a basic discussion of el paquete as the ingenious alternative to extensive internet connectivity on the island.

Link to full text via Forbes

Starwood Signs First U.S.-Cuba Hotel Deal Since 1959 Revolution

By Marc Frank (Reuters, March 20, 2016)

This article showcases the details of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide deal to manage and market three properties in Cuba. The first major American hotel deal on the island since the Revolution, Starwood's return to the island will help manage the influx of American tourists, as travel restrictions are gradually loosened and once commercial airline service is resumed.

Link to full text via Reuters

Cuba Eliminates Tax on U.S. Dollar

(, March 17, 2016)

Only days before President Obama's visit to the island, the Cuban government announced the elimination of the 10% tax used on U.S. dollars on the island. The elimination of the tax would bode well for visitors and Cubans alike, many of whom receive remittances in the form of dollars from family members in the United States. The removal of the tax also would signal a positive step in the normalization process, yet as of this writing it has yet to be implemented.

Link to full text via Havana Times

The Potential and Pitfalls of Doing Business in Cuba

By Pablo González Alonso and Alec Lee (Harvard Business Review, March 16, 2016)

This article analyzes the risks involved for U.S. businesses looking to venture into Cuba. Stressing the three factors associated with the stagnant Cuban economy-lack of capital investment, stalled state economy, and dual currency system-the article attempts to clarify confusion surrounding the recent normalization announcements insofar as what that could mean for business on the island. The article also emphasizes the distortions in official economic statistics, which have been used by the Cuban government to attract foreign investment but, in reality, have misrepresented business opportunities. Lifting of the U.S. embargo and unifying the two Cuban currencies will be necessary in providing a more stable business environment for future foreign investors.

Link to full text via Harvard Business Review

Culture Gap Impedes U.S. Business Efforts for Trade With Cuba

By Victoria Burnett (New York Times, March 12, 2016)

In this article, Burnett explores the cultural differences that have come into play during attempts by U.S. businesspeople to penetrate the Cuban market. While acknowledging difficulties of conducting business under the U.S. embargo and the ever-changing regulations since the normalization announcements, Burnett calls attention to the continued lack of understanding of Cuba by U.S. businesspeople, who have flocked to the island in droves since December 2014. Most businesses have been unable to make deals in Cuba because of a lack of a deeper understanding of the island and its socio-political context. As normalization continues and Cuba's allure for business and tourism grows, cultural practices must be recognized and respected.

Link to full text via New York Times

Alabama Company Gets U.S. Permission in Cuba

By Daniel Trotta (Reuters, February 16, 2016)

This article announces that a tractor-producing company in Alabama has received permission from the Department of Treasury to begin business in Cuba. The tractors are intended for small farmers and will be built in the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone, just outside of Havana. This permission from the Obama administration represents another positive step in normalizing economic relations.

Link to full text via Reuters

Caterpillar Names Rimco Official Dealer for Cuba

By Caterpillar Inc. (PR Newswire, February 10, 2016)

Caterpillar, a manufacturer of construction equipment, has named Rimco, a Puerto Rican company, as its dealer for Cat construction products in Cuba. The article notes that as trade restrictions gradually ease and once commercial relations are restored between the United States and Cuba, Caterpillar products will be utilized in the rebuilding of Cuba's infrastructure. The choice of Rimco as dealer is also significant, as the Puerto Rican company has "great affinity" for Cuba, and as the company has served for many years as Caterpillar's dealer in the Eastern Caribbean market.

Link to full text via PR Newswire

Let's Make a Deal: Doing Business in Cuba

By William M. LeoGrande (Huffington Post Business, December 21, 2015)

While President Obama's opening to Cuba has produced many positive results for both Americans and Cubans, the lack of progress in the economic arena could jeopardize further normalization. In this article, LeoGrande argues that there are still ways in which the Obama administration could improve regulations for U.S. businesses looking for opportunities on the island, with the lifting of the embargo as the ultimate goal of these policies. Until more progress can be made, especially regarding the legal confusion that U.S. companies have faced, American businesses are at risk of losing out on opportunities that could benefit other foreign investors.

Link to full text via Huffington Post

U.S. Companies Clamor to Do Business in New Cuban Market

By Julie Creswell (New York Times, December 18, 2014)

This article gives a panorama of the market for U.S. business in Cuba before the December 17, 2014 announcements, while looking to the future to ask what an opening to Cuba could look like. Accompanied by a detailed graphic that displays the basics of the Cuban exports, imports, and current trading partners, the article focuses on opportunities for U.S. businesses that could provide goods and services for Cuba's domestic sector (like Home Depot, Caterpillar, and John Deere), while cautioning companies geared towards consumer goods (like PepsiCo and Frito-Lay) could face barriers in conducting business. The article concludes by stating that the tourism and hospitality industries will initially receive the biggest boost from the normalization announcements.

Link to full text via New York Times

Cuba and Iran: When the Sanctions Come Off

(The Economist, July 25, 2015)

This article argues that, similar to Iran, the great obstacle to post-sanction growth in Cuba may be the government. The article notes that in the past 18-months only five foreign direct investment projects in the special economic zone of Mariel have been approved by the government - slow bureaucracy and risk-aversion may not allow for large amount of FDI to enter the region quickly.

Link to full text via The Economist

Cuba's Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial Institutions

By Pavel Vidal and Scott Brown (Atlantic Council, July 2015)

The new US policy toward Cuba comes at a critical moment for the island's economy. After twenty-five years of post-Soviet adjustment and patchy results from limited reforms, a consensus exists that the economic system and old institutions require a fundamental overhaul. Taking lessons from the experiences of other former communist countries, this report argues that a series of steps can be taken now-by Cuba, the United States, and the international community-to pave the way for Cuba to be reintegrated into the global economy and welcomed back as a full and active member of the international financial institutions.

Link to full text via Atlantic Council

Rethinking Cuba: New Opportunities for Development

(Brookings Institution, June 2, 2015)

On June 2, 2015, the Latin America Initiative at Brookings hosted a series of panel discussions with various experts including economists, lawyers, academics, and practitioners to examine opportunities and challenges facing Cuba in this new context. Panels examined macroeconomic changes underway in Cuba, how to finance Cuba's growth, the emerging private sector, and themes related to much-needed foreign investment.

Link to full text via the Brookings Institution

Barriers Remain for American Business in Cuba

By Victoria Burnett (New York Times, April 15, 2015)

Despite the removal of Cuba's designation on the state sponsors of terrorism list, much work is left before American businesses can be fully reconnected with Cuba. In order to lift the embargo, President Obama - or a future president - needs to certify to Congress that a transitional, or democratically elected, government was in power in Cuba. Alternatively, Congress could change the law.

Link to full text via the New York Times

U.S. Companies Cautioned to Curb their Enthusiasm for Trade with Cuba

By Michael A. Fletcher (Washington Post, April 1, 2015)

President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba have garnered enthusiasm from U.S. firms eager to do business there, but that passion is bumping up against stubborn realities of Cuba's limited economic capacity and uncertainty about what is permitted under both U.S. and Cuban law.

Link to full text via the Washington Post

U.S. Takes a Positive "Negative" Approach to Trade with Cuban Entrepreneurs

By Ashley Miller and Ted Piccone (Brookings Institution, February 19, 2015)

In keeping with the Obama Administration's fresh approach to relations with Cuba, on Friday the State Department released its list of goods and services eligible for importation from the nascent but growing Cuban private sector. Americans can now directly support independent Cuban entrepreneurs and cooperatives through commerce. The Section 515.582 list, characterized as a "living document" that will be updated periodically, further clarifies the path breaking Commerce and Treasury Department regulations released in January. It takes a permissive, "negative" approach that identifies specific prohibited categories of items and allows everything not specifically listed as permissible items for importation to the United States.

Link to full text via Brookings Institution

U.S.-Cuba Diplomatic Thaw Puts Mariel Port Back in Spotlight

By Tim Johnson (McClatchy DC, January 21, 2015)

The deepwater port of Mariel, once the site of a massive exodus of refugees to the United States, may soon be the stage for a new chapter in Cuba's history. A $1 billion project to modernize the port and create a special economic zone will add Mariel as a stop on a global maritime highway that stretches from Asia to Europe. Experts hail the Port of Mariel expansion and free-trade zone as an important step toward open markets, if not a break from the country's one-party socialist system. Cuban officials voice optimism that even if the U.S. embargo stays in place, the special economic zone will attract Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Brazilian and European companies.

Link to full text via McClatchy DC


Why 'Complicated' Cuba May Not See a 'Gold Rush' From the Opening of U.S. Relations

By Gail DeGeorge, et al. (Financial Post, December 26, 2014)

In light of recent changes in US-Cuba relations, the article discusses possible barriers and risks of doing business on the island, using Myanmar -another economy in transition- as an example. DeGeorge, et al. advise foreign investors planning to explore the Cuban market to conduct risk analysis and be prepared for uncertainty.

Link to full text via Financial Post

U.S. Business Faces Game of Catch-Up if Cuba Sanctions are Cut

By Marc Frank and David Adams (Reuters, December 22, 2014)

Although international companies have thus far had an advantage in several sectors of the Cuban market, U.S. corporations are strategizing to move in quickly to the telecom, construction, food, light manufacturing, and pharmaceutical industries, among others. The article suggests that, while there could be plenty of opportunities for U.S. companies when Cuba's government opens up the economy, the pace of change remains uncertain.

Link to full text via Reuters

For U.S. Businesses and Tourists, Opportunities Abound in Cuba

By Karen DeYoung and Carol Morello (Washington Post, December 18, 2014)

DeYoung and Morello discuss the multifaceted process ahead in the normalization of the U.S. and Cuba's diplomatic and commercial ties. While citizens will be able to take advantage of the U.S.'s loosening restrictions, it is impossible to anticipate how long the full process will take since each phase must be approved by both governments.

Link to full text via Washington Post

U.S. Chamber Welcomes Progress in U.S.-Cuba Relations

By Thomas J. Donahue (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, December 17, 2014)

In this statement, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports President Obama's decision to begin normalizing relations with Cuba.Despite the fact that many reforms will be required, the Chamber views the announcement as an important step in the right direction and will "continue to push for the end of the embargo" in Washington.

Link to full text via U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Cuba's New Foreign Investment Law is a Bet on the Future

By William LeoGrande (Huffington Post, April 2014)

In his article, LeoGrande analyzes the new foreign investment law that was passed during a special assembly of the Cuban assembly and calls it a "key component of President Raul Castro's program to 'update' the economy." Motivated by a crisis in the external sector, Cuban leaders are looking for a way to boost direct foreign investment with the new law, which offers substantially better terms to foreign investors than the 1995 law it replaces.

Link to full text via Huffpost

Ley No. 118: Ley de la Inversión Extranjera

By Juan Esteban Lazo Hernández of the Gaceta Oficial Cuba (Granma, April 2014)

The Ley de la Inversión Extranjera (Foreign Investment Law) was enacted in March 2014 to encourage sustainable development in Cuba, while still preserving national sovereignty. The law permits, with certain restrictions, foreign investment in most sectors of the economy on competitive terms. It also clarifies foreign investors' rights and opportunities in Cuba, including assurances that their investments will not be expropriated without due monetary compensation.

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The New Cuban Economy: What Roles for Foreign Investment?

By Richard Feinberg (Brookings Institution, December 2012)

This paper explores Cuba's historic stance on foreign direct investment and considers the possibility of incorporating greater participation from international markets into the Island's economy. The author estimates that Cuba could bring much-needed revenues to its citizens by partnering with core global financial institutions.

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The United States and Cuba: Implications of an Economic Relationship

Edited by José Raúl Perales (Woodrow Wilson Center Latin American Program, August 2010)

Based on discussions that took place at a conference on U.S.-Cuban relations, this article summarizes the economic relationship between the United States and Cuba. The author argues that lessening trade and travel restrictions between the two countries would drastically improve both nations' economies and prompt major growth in the industries of agriculture and tourism.

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Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000

(U.S. Department of the Treasury)

This piece of legislation requires unilateral agricultural and medical sanctions to be terminated toward countries with which the United States is not at war. It does not, however, allow for expanded trade with nations on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list held by the State Department, and it strengthens travel restrictions to Cuba.

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Portfolio of Opportunities for Foreign Investment

(Government of Cuba)

In this document, the Cuban government acknowledges the role played by foreign investment flows in contributing to the economic sustainable development of the country and defines the new policy (Law No. 118) to attract foreign investment. Foreign investment may be authorized in all sectors except those dealing with the health and education of the population and those related to the armed forces, with the exception of their business systems. This Portfolio provides information for potential investors and to invite them to take part in the development of the Cuban economy.

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ZED—Special Economic Development Zone of Mariel

(Government of Cuba)

The Special Economic Development Zone of Mariel is a project directed to encourage the nation's sustainable economic development by attracting foreign investment, technological innovation and industrial concentration while at the same time ensuring environmental protection. It covers an area of 465.4 square kilometers west of Havana. The Zone promotes and protects enterprises, industrial, agricultural, metal-mechanical and tourism projects, and all types of activities permitted by Cuban law that use clean technologies and produce added value goods and services based on knowledge and innovation.

Link to full text via the Government of Cuba

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