Cuba slashes purchases from US in 2009 by 37 percent
Tuesday 3rd November, 2009 (IANS)
Cuban purchases from US companies will total some $580 million by the
end of 2009, down 37 percent from last year, the head of the state
corporation Alimport said.
'This will be the first year that they (purchases from the US) will
decline both in volume and in value, and if current conditions continue,
it will be very difficult to keep increasing the volume of business,'
Igor Montero said Monday at the inauguration of the 27th International
Trade Fair in Havana.
He attributed the decrease in purchases – principally of food supplies –
to the global recession, rising food prices and the economic embargo
that the US has imposed on Cuba since 1962.
The severe slump the island is going through has forced authorities to
lower their forecast for 2009 economic growth from 6 percent to 1.7
percent and to make drastic cuts in imports, which were outpacing
exports by a ratio of 5-1 at the beginning of the year.
Trade fair organisers in Havana estimate that deals will be signed this
year for some $150 million compared with $350 million in 2008.
In 2001, Washington began allowing Cuba to make cash purchases of food
and medicine from US firms, and since then Cuban purchases from the US
have been worth more than $4 billion, according to Alimport figures.
But Montero warned that if conditions for doing business in that country
do not change, 'it will be very difficult to continue with trade at the
levels we've been used to'.
He added that 35 US companies are attending the fair (compared with 61
in 2008) along with delegations from state governments.
Also present at the fair's opening was Cuban Trade Minister Rodrigo
Malmierca, who said the communist-ruled island's foreign trade dropped
by 36 percent in the first nine months of 2009 compared to the same
period last year.
He acknowledged that the government has difficulties paying its suppliers.
'The Cuban economy is characterised by obstacles to getting
international financing, the reduction of demand and of prices for our
main export products, and the increase of priority imports like food,
with the obvious decline in purchasing power,' Malmierca said.
Cuba slashes purchases from US in 2009 by 37 percent (3 November 2009)