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Cuba flag Cuba:

Country risk of Cuba : International trade

According to the Cuban Chamber of Commerce and the World Bank, Cuba is not only a country that is open to foreign trade, but it is also highly dependant on it - which represents 27.1% of the GDP. According to the latest available data from Comtrade, in 2006 the island mainly exported medicaments (7.3%), cigars (7.3%), powered aircraft (3%), crustaceans (1.9%), and medical apparatus (1.4%), while Cuba mainly imported electric generating sets and rotary converters (4.8%), refrigerators (2.9%), electric filament or discharge lamps (1.8%), rice (1.7%), and medical apparatus (1.7%). However, the latest data available from the Observatory of Economic Complexity estimates that in 2020 Cuba mainly imported poultry meat (5.4%), wheat (3.4%), soyabean meal (3.1%), corn (2.7%), and concentrated milk (2.5%), while the country exported rolled tobacco (23.8%), raw sugar (17.5%), nickel mattes (11.1%), hard liquor (8%), and zinc ore (6.5%).

Cuba's main trade partners are China, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. The embargo imposed by the United States has long been an obstacle to Cuba's foreign trade. And even though the Obama administration lifted the Cold War embargo policy off of Cuba in 2016, former-president Trump suspended the policy for unconditional sanctions relief, saying that he would work on a "better deal" between the two countries. However, U.S.-Cuba relations are expected to improve under the current administration, as president Biden has attested he intends to reverse the Trump's Cuban policies. Located at the crossroads between Latin America and the United States, Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and maintains strong economic and financial relations with Venezuela - its energy partner. With the current economic crisis in Venezuela, oil shipments have fallen sharply and are now down by around 40% compared to 2014 levels. Relations with China, Cuba's most important trade partner, have been intensifying for the past decade. Furthermore, Beijing purchases much of the Cuban nickel, which has overtaken sugar as the country's leading export commodity.

Cuba's lack of transparency remains an obstacle towards accurately accounting its trade balance. According to the Heritage Foundation, Cuba's trade balance ascends to 26.2% of GDP and the average tariff in the country is 7.2%. According to the WTO data, Cuba is a net importer of goods and, in 2020, imports of goods were equal to USD 8.1 billion, while exports totalled USD 2.2 billion; thus leading to a negative trade balance of USD 5.9 billion. Moreover, the imports of services in 2019 (latest available data) were USD 2 billion, by far inferior to the exports, which totalled USD 10.2 billion - resulting on a services trade balance of USD 8.2 billion.

International Economic Cooperation
Cuba is a member of:

- WTO (the GATT agreement came into force on the 20/03/1948 in Havana) but it only became an active member again on the 20/04/1995
-The Latin American integration association (ALADI) and in this context, it has entered into some preferential bilateral agreements (with Chile and Argentina concerning wine).
Cuba has additionally signed an agreement for economic cooperation with Venezuela called the ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas): Since 2000, Venezuela has thus supplied 100 000 barrels of petrol a day to Cuba through this agreement while Cuba has sent more than 20 000 doctors to Venezuela.

Cuba is also a member of:

- the World Health Organization (WHO)
- the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
- the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
- the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
- the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL)
- the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

The country have signed a trade agreement with 21 other countries in the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP).

Average Customs Duty (Excluding Agricultural Products)
The income duty rates are on the whole fairly reasonable. The average rate for customs tax was 21.3% in 2006 (average final consolidated duty according to the WTO), 37% for agricultural products and 9.4% for other products. With regard to merchandise coming from WTO member states or from countries with which bilateral agreements exist, Cuba applies the most favored nation clause (the MFN). The average of the duties applied in 2007 were at 10.8%.
Useful Resources
Cuban Customs (Spanish only)
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
In Cuba patents, trademarks and blueprints have to be lodged at the OCPI (Cuban Bureau of industrial property). Copyrights come under the National Copyrights Center, the CENDA.

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Latest Update: November 2022