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flag Cuba Cuba: Economic and Political Outline

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline


Economic Indicators

The Cuban economy continues to suffer from the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1991, as well as from the trade boycott imposed by the United States. In addition, despite its isolation, Cuba (already weakened by the passing of the hurricanes) was strongly affected by the global economic crisis due to the reduction in tourism revenues and the drop in the nickel price. The country saw its financial situation deteriorate and had to face difficulties due to a lack of solvency and liquid assets. However its economic growth  remained stable around the 3% mark (3% in 2013 after 3.2% in 2012).

Economically, in the recent years Cuba has gone from a period of strong growth to currently facing a difficult situation, marked particularly by a lack of foreign exchange, a situation that has worsened since 2011.

The state control over the economy and the persistent restraints on free trade still constitute, in 2014, severe obstacles to the commercial and economic development of Cuba. The country has a significant budgetary deficit (3.8%) and it is paralyzed by structural problems. The president, Raul Castro, has reaffirmed his intentions of modernizing the Cuban economy model by a series of measures: the introduction of more discipline on budget management; give priority to investments that can generate foreign currency; reform the banking system to control credits; suppress the subventions; unify the currency that circulates in the country (Cuban Peso and convertible Peso); close non-profitable public companies; favor private companies; and develop exports. Authorities have set the target for the non state sector to reach 40% of GDP within the next 5 years.

In spite of a low unemployment rate (less than 3% in 2013 after 3.8% in 2012) the living standards of the Cuban population remain very low, in fact they are now lower than in the 1990s. Cuba import over 65% of its food consumption. Political uncertainty is on the rise as major economic reforms hand an increased role to private enterprise and power shifts to a new generation of leaders.

Main Indicators 20042005200620072008
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force)

Source: CIA - The world factbook , Last Available Data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

The main sector of activity in Cuba is the services sector which represented over 74% of the GDP in 2013, employing over 60% of the active population. The importance of this sector is strongly related to the development of tourism.

Industry represents about a fourth of the GDP (22%) and employs over 20% of the population. It is concentrated in agricultural products and the production of cement and agricultural machinery. Cuba also has significant mining resources. The export of nickel represents the main source of income into the country. Cuba also has other minerals such as gold and copper and is conducting prospective activities concerning hydrocarbon.

Agriculture represents 4% of the GDP and employs around 20% of the population. Its main productions are sugar and sugar cane (12.5 billion tons of sugar cane are produced every year), they take one third of the cultivated land.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 19.7 17.1 63.2
Value Added (in % of GDP) 5.0 20.5 74.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) 2.1 2.8 3.3

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

Monetary Indicators
Cuban Peso (CUP) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.


Learn more about Market Analyses about Cuba on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2014 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Business environment ranking


The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

World Rank:

Source: The Economist - Business Environment Rankings 2014-2018


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

In spite of certain signs of reconciliation, the embargo upheld by the United States remains a source of strong tensions and has restricted Cuba's foreign trade.

The European Union has represented about half of the country's foreign trade in 2013. Cuba's three main export partners are: Canada, China and Venezuela. The island mainly exports sugar, nickel, tobacco, medicines and fishing products.

In 2013, the country's top three suppliers were Venezuela, China and Spain. Cuba mainly imports mineral fuels and oil, machinery, electric & electronic equipment, cereals, and vehicles. The balance of commodities in Cuba is structurally in deficit, but the income produced by the export of services (mainly into Venezuela) has allowed the country to have a positive trade balance.

Located at the crossroads between Latin America and the United States, Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean region and maintains strong economic and financial relations with Venezuela - its energy partner - and its North-American neighbour. Relations with China, Cuba's second most important trading partner, have intensified since 2012. Beijing has purchased much of the Cuban nickel, which has overtaken sugar as the country's leading export. Tourism is an increasing contributor to the economic growth. In 2013 it has represented over USD 2.6 billion.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20092010201120122013
Imports of Goods (million USD) 9,62311,49614,17513,71913,800
Exports of Goods (million USD) 3,1094,9146,1365,9726,200
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,3751,9232,1782,4062,478
Exports of Services (million USD) 8,78510,21210,81712,76012,365
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -17.740.2-10.0--
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.112.7-4.3--
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 15.417.719.1--
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 32.639.839.1--

Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank , Last Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
Venezuela 12.8%
Spain 4.1%
Russia 3.2%
Bolivia 1.6%
France 1.5%
See More Countries 76.7%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 13.4%
Spain 7.7%
Germany 5.7%
United States 4.5%
Italy 3.8%
See More Countries 65.1%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data


Main Products

- bn USD of products exported in 2006
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 7.3%
Cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes of...Cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes 7.3%
Powered aircraft e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes;...Powered aircraft e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes; spacecraft, incl. satellites, and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles 3.0%
Crustaceans, fit for human consumption, whether in...Crustaceans, fit for human consumption, whether in shell or not, live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine, incl. crustaceans in shell cooked beforehand by steaming or by boiling in water; flours, meals and pellets of crustaceans, fit for human consumption 1.9%
Instruments and appliances used in medical,...Instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, incl. scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments, n.e.s. 1.4%
See More Products 79.0%
- bn USD of products imported in 2006
Electric generating sets and rotary convertersElectric generating sets and rotary converters 4.8%
Refrigerators, freezers and other refrigerating or...Refrigerators, freezers and other refrigerating or freezing equipment, electric or other; heat pumps; parts thereof (excl. air conditioning machines of heading 8415) 2.9%
Electric filament or discharge lamps, incl. sealed...Electric filament or discharge lamps, incl. sealed beam lamp units and ultra-violet or infra-red lamps; arc-lamps; parts thereof 1.8%
RiceRice 1.7%
Instruments and appliances used in medical,...Instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, incl. scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments, n.e.s. 1.7%
See More Products 87.1%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

See More Products
More imports (Intracen Data)
More exports (Intracen Data)

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministry of Finance and Prices
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Primary Industries
Statistical Office
National Bureau of Statistics
Central Bank
Central Bank of Cuba
Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Google Cuba
Sitios Cubanos (Spanish only)
Economic Portals
Cuban portal - general (Spanish Only)
The Cuban Economy
Information portal on Cuban economy and investment methods (in Spanish)

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Political Outline

Executive Power
The president is both the head of state and government. He is elected by the National Assembly for a term of five years. The president has executive powers and is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He controls most aspects of Cuban life through the Cuban Communist Party (PCC).
Legislative Power
Legislative powers are vested in the National Assembly whose members are elected by popular Municipal Assemblies . Its 614 members are elected for 5 years in a two-round system with single candidate ballots.
Main Political Parties
The Cuban Constitution only recognizes one legal party: the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) whose secretary is Fidel Castro Ruiz.
Current Political Leaders
Until 2006, Fidel Castro was the main political figure in Cuba and was the record holder of the longest stay in power (45 years in power without sharing power or multi-party elections). In July 2006, he handed over the power to his brother Raul, former defense Minister, because of health reasons. He is still currently the dominant political figure : President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers since 24 February 2008; The First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers is Jose Ramon MACHADO Ventura since 24 February 2008.
Next Election Dates
Presidential: 2018
Legislative: 2018

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures the violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire sent to partner organizations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and activists of human rights, including the main criteria - 44 in total - to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
1 place up compared to 2013

Source: Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2014, Reporters Without Borders


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Not Free
Political Freedom:

Map of freedom 2014
Source: Freedom House


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Last Updates: October 2014