Castro's Pullback Measures Take Effect

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ban Prohibiting Sale Of Imported Garments Goes Into Effect In Cuba

Cubans rush to purchase clothes as reform prohibiting the sale of imported garments goes into effect on January 1.

Cuban entrepreneurs are struggling to meet a December 31 deadline to sell off their imported clothes as a reform established by the Cuban government banning the sale of imported goods at lower prices than those offered by the state, goes into effect on January 1.

Three years ago communist-run Cuba allowed retail services in the form of 200 individual activities from clowns, seamstresses, food vendors, taxis and the building trades, to small businesses such as restaurants, cafeterias, bed and breakfasts and home-based movie theatres.

The new regulations, announced in September, will put the brakes on these individually owned and run businesses.

Enterprising residents took advantage of some of the categories, for example seamstress and household supplies salesman, offered imported clothing and supplies in greater variety and at lower cost than the state.

Others bought out available supplies at state stores and resold them at higher prices, which is now also banned by the new regulations.

Some of the clothes sold here were often not available locally or were sold by the state at a minimum 240 percent markup.

A year ago, the state dramatically increased customs duties on travelers with the apparent aim of protecting state-run stores from the growing flow of merchandise imported informally.