Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Cuba Reinstates Tax on Food Imports



The government of Cuba yesterday restored import tariffs on noncommercial foodstuffs brought to the island by airline passengers travelling to the island as tourists. The decision, announced earlier this month by the Aduana General de la República (Cuba’s national customs agency), ends a four-year moratorium on the tariff imposed following hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Paloma, which hit the island in 2008.

It remains to be seen whether the decision to reinstate the tariff is tied to the growth of unofficial U.S. food exports to Cuba by way of U.S. citizens travelling to visit relatives on the island. But observers have noted that the tariff exemption mainly benefited owners of non-state cafes and restaurants, which have flourished amid the economic reforms undertaken by President Raúl Castro since 2010.

The authorities gave no estimate of how much money could be raised for the restoration of the tax. According to the statement, customs will maintain an exemption for less than 20 pounds of medication, provided they are separate from other luggage.

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