2002 TRADE DOWN 13.9%.
Cuba reported 2001 trade was $6.5 billion, of which US$4.838 billion was imports and US$1.662 billion exports. Granma said imports declined 14% last year and exports 13.6%, or by $266 million. The trade deficit was US$2.725 billion, a 14.2% decline from US$3.176 billion in 2001;
The trade decline was the first reported by Cuba since 1994, when it began recovering from an economic crisis caused by the demise of former benefactor the Soviet Union. The recovery has slowed since 2000, with the Government reporting the gross domestic product up 1.1% last year, vs 3% in 2001 and more than 6% in 2000. A 5% decline in tourism, low sugar prices, hurricanes, shrinking foreign investment and credit and the U.S. trade embargo left the country short of cash to import oil and other products in 2002, Economy Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez recently said;
Western diplomats reported exports of machinery and nonessential items such as cars and computers declined significantly, as did supplies for the sugar industry in the wake of Havana's 2002 decision to close half the country's mills. Europe accounted for 41% of Cuba's 2002 trade, the Americas 39% and Asia 18%. Havana's top trading partners were Venezuela, Spain, China, Canada and Russia in that order, unchanged from 2001. Oil and its derivatives accounted for 21% of Cuba's imports last year, and food 20% of imports.