Cuba says exports of services tops $9 billion
Thu Jan 8, 2009 8:53pm GMT
By Marc Frank
HAVANA, Jan 8 (Reuters) – Cuban exports of services grew by 6.2 percent
in 2008, topping the $9 billion mark for the first time and
consolidating their position as Cuba's most important source of foreign
exchange, the government said this week.
The mounting services income –officials say more than half comes from
leftist ally Venezuela– has enabled Cuba to more or less balance its
external finances in recent years despite a huge trade deficit that
soared to $11.6 billion in 2008.
The National Statistics Office, in preliminary figures posted on its Web
site (http://www.one.cu), reported 2008 service exports at $9.2 billion,
up from $8.6 billion in 2007.
Cuba does not specify what it includes within the service export
category, though officials have said tourism and related revenues, the
export of medical and other technical services,and donations fall within it.
Cuba said it received $2.5 billion from tourism in 2008.
Revenues from pharmaceutical and other joint ventures abroad may also be
included, according to local economists, as well as the training of
Non-tourism related service exports began increasing dramatically after
a 2004 accord with Venezuela, under which the oil-rich South American
oil-producing country pays Cuba for massive health care assistance and
Cuba reported 40,000 of its citizens worked in Venezuela last year,
30,000 of them in the health sector.
Before the 2004 agreement with Venezuela, Cuba's service exports totaled
less than $4 billion a year, with tourism and related activities
accounting for more than half of that.
The government reports foreign exchange data in the convertible peso
which it pegs at $1.08 U.S. (Editing by Jeff Franks and Anthony Boadle)