Tag Archives: economy

Factors Hindering the Growth of the Cuban Economy

Jorge I. Dominguez served as the chair of Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. He was also Harvard’s first provost for international affairs. In 2015, Jorge Dominguez wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review about the Cuban economy.

The output of the Cuban economy contracted 10.8 percent in 2020, and figures show that it fell again by about 2 percent in the first half of 2021. Also, imports have fallen by 40 percent since the beginning of 2020. One of the factors restricting the growth of the Cuban economy is the system of taxation. The country does not have a VAT, personal income tax, or corporate tax. Instead, it taxes small private businesses based on how many employees they have. This is an outmoded taxation system that does not accurately represent how much money flows through a business.

Also, Cuba is a bureaucratic and highly regulated country. This makes it very difficult for businesses to thrive. This problem is also a result of the rigid communism practiced in the state. Reuters reported a case of a state-owned farm in Cuba where pigs were dying because government permission is needed to buy feed. If the Cuban economy is to improve, it’s likely that many of the restrictions keeping private businesses from thriving will have to be removed.

A Brief Introduction to How Cuba’s Economy is Structured

Formerly the Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico at Harvard University, Dr. Jorge I. Dominguez recently retired from academia. Throughout his career, he taught undergraduate and graduate students about international relations and politics in both Mexico and Cuba. Dr. Jorge Dominguez also authored several books relating to Cuba and Latin America, such as “Economic Issues and Political Conflict: U.S.-Latin America Relations.”

The economy in Cuba is a planned-socialist economy. This type of economy is like what was seen in the Soviet Union and was used by roughly one-third of the world following World War II. Along with North Korea, Cuba is one of the only examples of a planned-socialist economy that seeks to greatly constrain the role of markets left in the world.

In Cuba, the economy is mostly state-run. There is a government-sponsored education program that provides free education to citizens at all levels, along with a national healthcare program. Cuba also has subsidized utilities, entertainment, food, and housing programs in place that compensate for the low salaries of workers in the country. All of these programs have suffered from insufficient economic growth during the past decade.

Planned socialism focuses on state ownership of all resources and the central allocation of labor, unlike capitalism that focuses on private ownership of resources.

A planned-socialist economy has a great deal of control over labor. In fact, nearly 80 percent of Cuba’s workers are employed by a government-owned enterprise. The country also does not have a stock exchange. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba started reducing its restrictions on economic activities. Most notably it announced that it would allow for small- and medium-sized private businesses in most sectors instead of relying solely on state-owned operations.

Shift to Renewables Projected to Boost Mexico’s Economy

Jorge Dominguez
Image: people.fas.harvard.edu

Having served as Harvard University’s first vice provost for international affairs, former professor Dr. Jorge Dominguez has undertaken extensive research on Latin American economies. Among Dr. Jorge Dominguez’s responsibilities was as the institution’s Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico.

A recent Forbes article drew attention to the potential of Mexico’s Paris Agreement pledge to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by as much as 36 percent by 2030, as having the potential for a significant economic impact as well. This reflects World Resources Institute (WRI) quantitative analysis that points to a strong decarbonization path as saving $5 billion in cumulative costs and helping prevent 26,000 premature deaths.

A majority of the proposed decarbonization efforts are centered on Mexico’s transportation, electricity, and industrial sectors. Unfortunately, there is at present no clear decarbonization plan, and emissions in the world’s 10th leading GHG emitter are forecast to rise by 75 percent over the next three decades under business-as-usual scenarios.

Within a WRI-recommended renewable portfolio standard, Mexico will need to increase distributed solar and wind energy sources exponentially to attain its goals. Fortunately, the installation and maintenance of such large scale systems will also be a significant economic driver.

Cuba’s FDI-Linked Agricultural Export Potential