Cuba

The Biden administration is preparing to unveil new regulatory measures to allow more U.S. financial support for small private businesses in Cuba, Reuters reported. The move, expected as soon as this week, is seen as a long-promised but limited step to ease restrictions to help Cuba's budding entrepreneurs cope with fallout from the Communist-ruled island's crippled economy. The announcement is aimed at making it easier for Americans to directly assist Cuban small business owners by providing guidelines for loans to them through the U.S. financial system.
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The Cuban Central Bank issued rules this week banning state and private businesses from using ATMs and limiting cash transactions between them, as it seeks to tame runaway inflation and off-the-books business amid a grave economic crisis, Reuters reported. The regulations went into effect on Thursday. They limit cash transactions to 5000 pesos and will be implemented gradually over six months, official media said. The government pegs the dollar at 24 pesos and for select companies, tourists and residents at 120 pesos, though it has few to exchange.
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Crisis-hit Cuba on Monday forecast economic growth of 3% for 2023 and reported 2% in 2022, half of what it had previously predicted and down 8% from the pre-pandemic level, Reuters reported. This year has proved tough for most Cubans, who had already suffered as a result of two years of pandemic lockdowns, raging inflation and food, medicine and other shortages. Daily blackouts have disrupted lives and the economy, while fuel and parts shortages have gutted public transportation.
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Cuba Wins China Debt Relief, New Funds

China has agreed to restructure Cuban debt and provide new trade and investment credits to the beleaguered Caribbean Island nation after a meeting in Peking between the two Communist countries’ leaders, Reuters reported. Cuba Economy Minister Alejandro Gil said the latter had also donated $100 million to help the country cope with basic goods shortages and an energy crisis worsened by Hurricane Ian, which decimated western Pinar del Rio province in late September.
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Cuba´s ailing economy has begun to recover in some sectors after two years of pandemic-induced contraction but soaring global prices for food and fuel require "audacious" measures to tame inflation, economy minister Alejandro Gil told Cuban lawmakers on Saturday, Reuters reported. Gil said Cuba saw a 38% increase in exports in the first quarter, boosted by the rising price of nickel, a top mineral export. He said inflation had also slowed despite upward pressure on the price of imports. "We are beginning to see a clear and gradual recovery," Gil said.

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The Cuban central bank issued regulations on Tuesday for virtual asset service providers, after giving a nod last year to the personal use of cryptocurrencies, a move some experts said could help the Communist-run Caribbean island skirt stiff U.S. sanctions, Reuters reported. Cryptocurrencies, which allow financial operations to be carried out anonymously in a decentralized manner, have been used in the past to get around capital controls, as well as to make payments and transfers more efficient.
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Cuba is struggling to cover a fuel deficit as imports from Venezuela and other countries remain below historical levels and global prices boosted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine make purchases almost unaffordable, according to analysts and data, Reuters reported. The Caribbean country, which is dependent on fuel imports mostly from political ally Venezuela to cover more than half of its demand, is since last month dealing with diesel and gasoline shortages leading to long lines in front of stations.
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Thousands of small and medium-sized Cuban businesses will be allowed to incorporate in the coming months, in one of the most important economic reforms taken by the island's Communist government since it nationalized all enterprises in the 1960s, Reuters reported. The reform, details of which came to light this week, will permit small and medium-sized businesses for the first time since 1968, putting an end to the legal limbo in which many have existed for years in the Soviet-style economy.
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Exxon Mobil Corp. can move forward with a U.S. lawsuit seeking $280 million from two Cuban companies as compensation for a refinery and other assets seized from the oil giant after Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, a judge in Washington said, Bloomberg News reported. The ruling Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta keeps alive Exxon’s suit against a Cuban government-owned conglomerate, Corporacion Cimex SA, and state-run oil company Union Cuba-Petroleo, known as Cupet. Over the years, the U.S.
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Cuba’s already cash-strapped economy shrank 11% in 2020 due to the pandemic, tougher U.S. sanctions and domestic inefficiencies, Economy Minister Alejandro Gil said on Thursday, forecasting 6% to 7% growth for next year, Reuters reported. Addressing a year-end session of the Communist-run country’s parliament, Gil said it would take the next two years for the state-run economy to recover from this year’s sharp contraction.

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