Cuba reports dramatic drop in maritime shipping
Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:51pm GMT
(Corrects to change to shipping by Cuban shippers instead of
international shippers and corrects tonnage numbers. Adds paragraph on
HAVANA June 25 (Reuters) - Shipping to and from the island nation of
Cuba by Cuban shippers fell by more than 60 percent in 2009 as the
country slashed imports to deal with a foreign exchange crisis, a
government report released on Friday said.
The report, posted on the National Statistics Office web page (one.cu),
provides a good indicator of the depth of the economic crisis in the
Communist-run nation, which imports most of its energy, machinery, food
and consumer goods.
Cuban shipping fell from 1.14 million tonnes in 2008 to 452,000 tonnes
last year, the report stated.
The statistics office said international shipping to the island fell 13
percent last year. Imports dropped to 8.7 million tonnes, down from 10.2
million in 2008, while exports dipped to to 2.4 million tonnes, down
from 2.6 million.
Cuba's economy has been battered by the global financial crisis,
damaging hurricanes and chronic inefficiencies.
Faced with a mushrooming trade deficit, a liquidity crisis and tight
credit, Cuban President Raul Castro declared at the end of 2008 the
country could no longer spend more than it earned and proceeded to cuts
Economy Minister Marino Murillo said in December imports were down 37.4
percent compared to 2008, while the government had turned 2008's foreign
exchange deficit into a surplus.
Foreign businessman in Cuba say the country appears to be reducing
imports even more this year. The cutbacks have led to spot shortages of
goods and some foods.
(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Jeff Franks and Alan Elsner)