Cuba Legalizes Private Businesses, With Key Caveats

MIN READJun 4, 2021 | 17:43 GMT

An old American car passes by the capitol building in Havana, Cuba, on May 3, 2021.

(YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images)

Cuba’s decision to allow private sector involvement in additional areas of the economy represents a modest move toward free-market policies that will allow some domestic companies to scale up operations and attract moderate levels of foreign investment, even as crucial sectors of the economy remain excluded from the reform. On June 2, state-owned media reported that Cuba’s Council of Ministers approved a reform that expands the list of economic activities where private ownership is authorized. The reforms, initially announced in February 2021, allow Cubans to legally own and operate private businesses in more than 2,000 different sectors, expanding a previous list of only 127 sectors. However, the 124 economic activities where private sector involvement remains prohibited are in some of the islands’ most lucrative industries, including tourism and tobacco production, as well as pharmaceuticals and health care. Private businesses also remain prohibited in the media and communications sector, which will...

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