Cuba Sees Hints of Recovery, Announces "Audacious" Measures to Tame Inflation

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. But the price Cuba paid for imported goods jumped by nearly $700 million in the first quarter, outpacing the country´s modest gains in exports, a predicament Gil attributed to "imported inflation" driven by fast-rising prices for such products as fuel, corn for feeding livestock and wheat. U.S. sanctions and soaring food and fuel prices, in part due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have put Cuba´s tepid recovery at risk and threaten to worsen shortages already forcing citizens to line up for food, medicine and other basic goods. Tourism, a top source of the foreign exchange necessary to pay for pricier imports, has also lagged well behind government targets, complicating recovery. Gil did not provide figures for overall gross domestic product nor did he address how first-quarter results contributed to meeting the government´s target of 4% growth in 2022. Read more.