Cuba flag Cuba: Contexto político-econômico

Contexto econômico de Cuba

Economic Indicators

The Cuban economy is still affected by the embargo imposed by the United States. While Washington was expected to loosen its sanctions under President Joe Biden, his approach towards Cuba has been tougher than former administrations, as he further tightened the trade and travel restrictions that were put in place by Donald Trump. In 2023, the Cuban economy recorded an estimated GDP contraction of between 1-2% according to the Central Bank. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the projected GDP growth for Cuba will be 1.7% in 2024.

Cuba is not transparent with its public accounts. At the beginning of 2021, the Cuban government implemented a currency and exchange rate unification, which should yield positive results in the long term. In the short term, though, the policy aggravated some economic issues in the country, most notably causing a huge increase in inflation (The year-on-year inflation rate in June 2023 was 45% - CEPAL). The Cuban government increased the projected fiscal deficit for 2023 by 44.4% compared to the first projections, now amounting to approximately EUR 3.8 billion. The increase in the deficit impacted the public debt incurred for the year, which amounted to EUR 5.8 billion. Since monetary unification, the debt ratio has surged, triggered by a downward revaluation of GDP. Despite a debt restructuring accord inked in 2015, the country defaulted in 2020. Subsequently, a second agreement was brokered with the Paris Club in 2021, enabling Cuba to settle its 1986 sovereign default by 2015. This initiative cleared USD 8.5 billion of the USD 11.1 billion debt, while the remaining portion was allocated to investment projects and spread out until 2033.

Despite a low unemployment rate (1.3% in 2022 – World Bank), the living standards of the Cuban population remain very low. It should be noted that while official unemployment rates are low, unofficial estimates are about double the official rate. Additionally, Cuba remains heavily dependent on food and energy imports, as it imports 80% of its food consumption. The country's situation is uncertain, as reforms are giving an increasingly significant role to private companies. This has led to pilfering, a robust black market, and brain drain.

Main Sectors of Industry

Cuba heavily depends on its natural resources to run its economy. Despite its small size, Cuba is rich in natural resources. Nickel is highly important for the country, and cobalt is also abundant on the island, making Cuba one of the highest producers and exporters of both nickel and cobalt in the world. Cuba also has offshore oil and natural gas reserves, mainly in the northern part of the island. Agriculture represents 0.8% of GDP and employs 17% of the population. Its main crops are still sugar and sugarcane, which take up a third of the cultivated land. However, in the last six years alone, sugar production has fallen from more than 1.5 million tonnes a year to less than half a million tonnes. Tobacco is the country’s second largest export crop. Other agricultural products include citrus, coffee, corn, rice, potatoes, beans, bananas, soy, cotton, and livestock. According to the FAO, the estimated cereal production for 2023 stood at 290,000 tonnes, approximately half of the five-year average. This decline is attributed to insufficient agricultural inputs, restricted access to agricultural credit, and limited farmer access to credit. As per the national government, Cuba failed to meet seven key state order productions in 2023: rice for consumption, twisted tobacco for export, beef for the industry, fresh milk, coffee, eggs, and wood.

Industry represents 23.8% of GDP and employs 17% of the population. It focuses on agrifood, production of cement, textiles, tobacco, and agricultural machinery. Cuba also has significant mineral resources (particularly of nickel, cobalt, gold, and copper) and is currently conducting hydrocarbon exploration. The cigar industry is one of the leading industries in the country, and it is highly dependent on tourism, as tourists are the leading customers of the product. Overall, the manufacturing sector is estimated to account for 11% of the country’s value-added.

The main economic activity in Cuba is the services sector, which represents 74.6% of GDP and employs 66% of the active population. Its significance is strongly related to the development of tourism, which leads the service sector alongside retail. For a long time, tourism has been pivotal in preventing the economy from total collapse: although the tourism industry was hit the hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism rates have been significantly increasing, which positively impacts the economy as a whole. Nevertheless, Cuban officials reported that 2.4 million tourists visited the island in 2023, approximately 1.1 million fewer visitors than the projected 3.5 million. The education sector is highly valued, with a focus on universal access to education and a strong emphasis on academic achievement.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 17.7 17.1 65.2
Value Added (in % of GDP) 0.9 23.3 75.0
Value Added (Annual % Change) -13.2 -6.8 4.1

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.


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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, labour 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:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: 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 Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2020-2024


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Finance and Prices (in Spanish)
Ministry of Industries
Statistical Office
National Bureau of Statistics and Information (in Spanish)
Central Bank
Central Bank of Cuba
Stock Exchange
The Havana Stock Exchange closed in 1959 with the Cuban Revolution.
Economic Portals
Cuban portal - general (Spanish Only)
The Cuban Economy

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Últimas atualizações em April 2024