Following the economic and immigration openings between the United States and Cuba during the Obama administration, the Raúl Castro regime reportedly began timid economic reforms that placed more responsibility in the hands of private entities — but have they worked?
It doesn’t look like it, as 2017 comes to a close as the island’s second straight year of recession.
“There is little hope that the country’s economy ends 2017 with a ‘positive growth,’” Cuban Economist Pavel Vidal said, predicting that the year will finish out with as little as -1.4 percent growth in Gross Domestic Product.
Another factor that has hurt the Cuban economy — and in turn has prevented Castro’s limited reforms from blossoming — is a lack of foreign investment. On the other hand, Cuba intends to develop a Special Zone of Economic Development, specifically in the province of Mariel, 28 miles west of the capital of Havana. With this project, the island’s regime hopes to attract sustainable foreign investments as well as manufacturing and technology.
Though Economic Zones are intended to attract foreign capital, a US company has already been rejected from the project, while three more projects are reportedly in “advanced negotiation” stages.
Agriculture, construction and tourism were expected to improve the island’s GDP by around 1.1 percent; however, those predictions didn’t account for the loss of oil subsidies in Venezuela or the fall in sugar prices caused by Hurricane Irma, whose true impact the Castro regime has not yet revealed.
Castro has cultivated an economic climate that, despite having diversified trade and investment partners in Cuba, continues to depend on its export of services (like doctors) as well as on the production of increasingly fewer goods.