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Lic. Jose Luis Rodriguez


Cuba's economy should follow two strong years of economic growth with an expansion of at least 10 percent, Economy Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez again defended Cuba's claims of 12.5 percent growth in gross domestic product for 2006, despite giving figures that indicated a slight slip in tourism " the Cuban economy's chief income earner.

Speaking Friday at a congress of leftist economists, Rodriguez said Cuba had transformed its economy since the collapse of the Soviet Union, once its chief supporter and trade partner.

An economy whose exports were 90 percent goods and only 10 percent services in 1989 now leans toward services, he said. Services now account for 76 percent of Cuba's overall economy while primary goods, such as crops, amount to only 4 percent.

Rodriguez said growth in Cuba's GDP "should reach more than 10 percent this 2007" despite high prices for imported food and fuel. Cuba has been aided by steadily rising domestic oil production as well as by significant fuel aid from Venezuela.

Rodriguez acknowledged that the communist government's method of counting output "has an influence" on the high rate of growth. Cuba includes social services not counted in U.N.-standard measures of economic output.

But he said that difference "is not the only thing that determines those rates of growth." He said that if social services and commerce were dropped from the count, Cuba still would have shown 9.5 percent growth last year.

It claimed growth of 11.8 percent in 2004.

Cuba was aided last year by high prices for nickel and cobalt and by a continuing flow of tourists.

Rodriguez put the number of tourists for 2006 at 2.22 million " a slight drop from the 2.3 million Cuba reported for 2005 to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.




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