Economy, Foreign Trade
European Common Market, development loans, Interamerican Development Bank, imported food, embargo
The number of Cuba’s economic partners has increased since 1990 due to the loss of the Soviet-bloc trade and in spite of the U.S. embargo. In 1994 Cuba’s leading market became Latin America, as 35 percent of exports went to Western Hemisphere nations. Colombia, Venezuela, and Mexico have supplied Cuba with petroleum, and Mexico has become an important trade partner overall. Other important trade partners are Canada, Spain, France, China, and the Russian Federation. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation accounts for only 15 percent of Cuban trade, down from over 80 percent in 1989.
Income from exports rose by 17 percent in 1995 over the 1994 level because international prices for sugar increased, as did prices for nickel, tobacco, and fish. Cuba now exports cement and other building materials. External sales of nickel and shellfish, two of Cuba’s most important export items, grew significantly as well.
Despite increased income from exports, the value of Cuba’s imports still exceeded the value of its exports as a result of the high cost of oil imports and Cuban dependence on imported food. The value of oil imports, for example, rose from almost $750 million in 1994 to $870 million in 1995, even though the volume was slightly less than in 1994.
The U.S. embargo has barred Cuba from development loans offered from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Interamerican Development Bank, which provides funds to help economic development in nations of the Western Hemisphere. Other sources of long-term loans have not been forthcoming. Cuba stopped paying installments on its debts in 1986, and lenders have been reluctant to extend further loans. Cuba’s acknowledged foreign debt is more than $9 billion. Cuba’s leading creditors are Japan, Spain, France, Argentina, the United Kingdom, and Italy.
Since the collapse of the COMECON trade association, Cuba has struggled to adjust to capitalist markets. Cuba belongs to no trade association, but leaders are looking toward Latin America, the European Common Market, Canada, and Mexico for opportunities to expand commerce.
Article key phrases: