On October 28, 2000, US President Bill Clinton signed the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) which allowed US firms to sell food and agricultural products to Cuba and other countries. However, the Cuban government did not purchase any of these products until December of 2001 following the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Michelle to important agricultural areas in November of that year.
Cuban purchases from US firms amounted to $4.319 million in 2001, $138.635 million in 2002, and $256.9 million in 2003. Cuba became the 35th most important food and agricultural export market for the United States in 2003, up from last (226th) in 2000. Actual purchases and pending contracts in the first-half of 2004 are at a pace to move Cuba into the top 20 most important markets of US food and agricultural exports. Furthermore, because current US legislation requires that all Cuban purchases from the United States must be conducted on a cash basis, the lack of credit risk associated with these sales makes Cuba one of the most attractive export markets for US firms.
Anticipating changes in US-Cuba trade relations, the Food and Resource Economics Department at UF/IFAS initiated a research initiative on Cuba in 1990, including a 1993 collaborative agreement with the University of Havana, which has lasted to this day. (Most of the resulting publications can be found at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/entity/topic/cuban_agriculture). We reiterate that our role as investigators is to provide the best available information and analyses from which rational decisions can be made. The reports included in this series intend to address the increasing level of interest in the Cuban market for food and agricultural products among US firms and to assist them in becoming more familiar with that market. The complete list of documents in this series can be found by conducting a topical search for "Cuba" at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu, or under "Additional Information" at the end of this document.
The process of economic reform in Cuba raised the hope and enthusiasm of many people on the island and abroad. It was short-lived, lasting exactly two years. The many and varied agricultural-related policies enacted during that period fell short of becoming the outset of an economic transition to a market economy (Table 1).
The reform process was launched by an unusual announcement by Fidel Castro on July 26, 1993, during the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba. In the city considered the cradle of his revolution, Castro announced a series of policies aimed at collecting foreign exchange. The most important one was the legalization of convertible currencies, mainly the US dollar. Two years later, he announced the end of the reform process. This fact sheet contains a chronology of the different pieces of legislation and measures related to the agricultural sector.
As explained in another fact sheet of this series (EDIS FE485), the 1993-1995 process of economic reform in Cuba originated in three unrelated events that unfolded separately and almost simultaneously: (1) the inefficiency of the state agricultural sector (which became critical during the late 1980s), (2) the demise of socialism in the countries of the former Soviet bloc, and (3) the reinforcement of U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba.
Trying to adapt to a drastically-changed international environment, lacking Soviet subsidies, and being forced to conduct its international transactions in hard currency, the Cuban government implemented timid market reforms. The process was an economic failure but a huge political success since it ensured the survival of socialism in Cuba. Ten years later, most of the new policies have been abolished or tempered.
Alvarez, José. 2004. Cuba's Agricultural Sector. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.
Below is a list of the fact sheets in this series on Cuban Agriculture. They can be accessed by clicking on the highlighted links:
FE479 — Cuban Agriculture Before 1959: The Political and Economic Situations
FE480 — Cuban Agriculture Before 1959: The Social Situation
FE481 — Transformations in Cuban Agriculture After 1959
FE482 — Overview of Cuba's Food Rationing System
FE483 — The Issue of Food Security in Cuba
FE484 — Acopio: Cuba's State Procurement and Distribution Agency
FE485 — Antecedents of the Cuban Agricultural Policies of the 1990s
FE486 — Chronology of Cuban Reform Policies with Emphasis on Agriculture, 1993–1995
FE487 — Cuba's Basic Units of Cooperative Production
FE488 — Cuba's Agricultural Markets
FE489 — Environmental Deterioration and Conservation in Cuban Agriculture
FE490 — The Potential Correlation between Natural Disasters and Cuba's Agricultural Performance
Chronology of Cuban reform policies with emphasis on agriculture, 1993-1995.