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Country Forecast Cuba February 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Cuba February 2018 Updater

  • February 2018
  • ID: 5313220
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • Raúl Castro will step down as president in February 2018. His most likely successor is the first vice-president, Miguel Díaz-Canel. Mr Castro will maintain a degree of control by remaining head of the ruling Partido Comunista de Cuba and probably the armed forces after leaving power. The government will work to ensure a smooth transition and to support a gradual ongoing economic reform programme. However, this process will be tightly controlled, and The Economist Intelligence Unit does not expect any radical transformation of the single-party political system.
  • Relations with the US will remain cool following the decision in June 2017 by the US president, Donald Trump, to reverse some aspects of a rapprochement begun by his predecessor, Barack Obama (2009-17). We believe that a lifting of sanctions is possible near the end of the 2018-22 forecast period-especially with a new, non-Castro leader in Cuba-given a shift in US public and business sentiment in favour of normalisation, supported by Cuban economic reforms.
  • Population and labour-force growth will stagnate, and the population will age rapidly, reflecting low birth rates, high life expectancy and net emigration. As public-sector jobs are shed, the non-state sector will grow and absorb workers, keeping the official unemployment rate below 4%, although under-employment may emerge as a problem.
  • There is huge scope for catch-up in terms of economic efficiency and development of new private-sector activities, particularly in the services sector. Growth will be driven by tourism and reconstruction from damage sustained during Hurricane Irma in September 2017, but a cut in aid from Venezuela poses risks. We foresee a gradual acceleration in growth, to 3.8% in 2022, supported by cautious economic reforms, better relations with the EU and renewed access to external financing, especially with an expected end to US sanctions in 2022.
  • The authorities intend to end the dual exchange-rate system to eliminate economic distortions. However, officials have adopted a cautious stance towards reforms, and currency unification is likely only late in the forecast period.
  • The greatest uncertainty in the long-term concerns the future of the one-party political system. Our central forecast assumes that the government will retain enough support and introduce sufficient reforms to avert overthrow or collapse. Structural transformation and international integration of the economy will advance, stimulating relatively firm average growth (3.2% per year in 2018-50). Market opportunities will increase, with new scope for trade, joint ventures and other forms of international business ties.

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