Cuba Faces a Significant Drop in Imports in the First Half of 2020

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Former Harvard University professor Dr. Jorge I. Domínguez is a Latin American scholar who has focused on the fields of international trade and economics. An area of extensive knowledge for Dr. Jorge I. Domínguez is Cuba’s prospects under a growth dampening Communist system.

As reported by Reuters, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been significant in Cuba during the first half of 2020. With the port of Mariel handling 90 percent of the island nation’s container shipments, traffic through May fell by 20 to 25 percent from the same period in 2019.

While the country does not generate timely economic data, claiming that the US could use such information against it in applying sanctions, it is broadly agreed that foreign exchange accounts for 50 percent of Cuba’s purchased and consumed fuel and food.

A survey of the top five Cuban commercial partners indicates that Chinese exports dropped by 55 percent through April, while exports from the EU were down nearly a third through March. The United States reported a decline in food sales for cash, permissible under the trade embargo, of 48 percent through April. The decline in such sales reported by Canada was a lower, but still substantial, 17.5 percent. The cumulative result is a substantial drop in Cuban imports of consumer and producers’ goods.

A former economist with the Cuban central bank interviewed by Reuters predicted a GDP drop in the eight to 10 percent range, which would have a significant impact on ordinary citizens already facing trade embargo-linked food and durable goods shortages.

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Currently in retirement, Jorge Dominguez most recently served as the Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico at Harvard University for 12 years.

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