Cuban president calls for championing local output
22 Sep 2018, 02:39
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Friday called on citizens to "champion" local production to cut Cuba's dependence on costly imports.
During a cabinet meeting on economic matters, the president and his top aides urged Cubans strive to increase output, especially of agricultural products, state daily Granma said.
Cuba currently imports more than three million tons of food a year at a cost of some two billion U.S. dollars, roughly what the island's tourism industry generates in revenue, say authorities.
"Hence the importance of working towards development that contributes to reducing the number of imported items, as well as increasing and diversifying exports," Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas said.
Island conditions combined with a decades-long U.S. trade embargo limit Cuba's agricultural yields, which were worsened by recent natural disasters, including a prolonged drought and the effects of Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Diaz-Canel also stressed the importance of fighting corruption and bureaucracy to attract foreign investment.
"We must be more proactive in pursuing foreign investment," said the president, noting such investment can increase access to export markets and bring new technology to enhance agricultural methods.
"Modernizing the country's export map is vital," Diaz-Canel said.
According to official figures, Cuba needs to attract at least 2.5 billion U.S. dollars in foreign investment each year to maintain economic growth.