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Cuba has opened its first wholesale market to meet the demands of the private sector and state-run companies, the government said Thursday.

The market, open to state enterprise, cooperatives and independent businesses, has been set up on an experimental basis on Isla de la Juventud, Cuba's second largest island, approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Havana.

The market, announced in an official decree, is regarded as a key element for the communist nation's development and had been requested by the independent sector for several months.

The market will sell food products, consumer and industrial goods, the government said.

Previously, wholesale markets were restricted to state enterprises only, and resembled distribution companies rather than authentic markets in Cuba's tightly controlled economy.

However, the Cuban government is attempting to reboot its Soviet-style economy by encouraging increased private enterprise.

Cuba's private sector comprises around 400,000 workers out of a population of 11 million people, while around four million are employed in the public sector.


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