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Country Report Cuba October 2017

Country Report Cuba October 2017

  • October 2017
  • ID: 325817
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit

Summary

Table of Contents

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Outlook for 2018-22



  • A new generation of leaders will take power in 2018, but the current president, Raúl Castro, will retain control as head of the ruling party and the armed forces. Miguel Díaz-Canel, the first vice-president, is the most likely successor.
  • Other officials, including powerful figures in the military and revolutionary hardliners, are likely to compete for authority in the post-Castro period. The security forces will prevent a rise in political instability.
  • Relations with the US will cool following the reinstatement by the US president, Donald Trump, of some travel-related and commercial sanctions. However, relations with the EU will improve under a new bilateral co-operation accord.
  • Economic liberalisation will be cautious and tightly controlled. The government will entrench existing reforms rather than introduce major new ones. The non-state sector will expand, but the government will limit its pace of growth.
  • Cuts in aid from Venezuela, lower exports and austerity measures will keep GDP growth low. It will pick up notably in 2021-22, helped by better access to financing, growth in tourism and progress on economic reforms.
  • The authorities will try to engineer a gradual appreciation of the Cuban peso in preparation for the eventual removal of the convertible peso from circulation, which is likely to occur by the end of the forecast period.
  • The current-account surplus will turn to deficit by 2022, but the external accounts will be supported by foreign direct investment and renewed access to external financing following the renegotiation of Paris Club debt.


Review



  • Hurricane Irma, a category-five storm, struck the northern coast of Cuba on September 8th-1oth. The storm left ten people dead, and destroyed several hotels and the international airport in the Jardines del Rey island chain.
  • In the light of damage from the hurricane-with essential services still not restored in some parts of the country-the government announced that it would delay municipal elections by one month, to November 26th.
  • In the wake of the hurricane the Cuban government announced that it would pay for 50% of the cost of damage to properties, with the remaining 50% to be financed at low-interest long-term loans by state banks.
  • US officials have continued to express concern over sonic attacks against US diplomats in Cuba, which caused serious health issues as side effects. The US government mulled the possible closure of the US embassy in Havana.
  • In late August Cuba joined the Central American Bank for Economic integration as an extra-regional partner. This will allow Cuba to access financing, particularly for infrastructure and energy projects.


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