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LatinNews Daily - 08 February 2021

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In brief: Cuba further opens up economy

* Cuba’s labour minister Marta Elena Feitó Cabrera has announced that the Cuban government will allow small private businesses to operate in most sectors, expanding the list of activities in which they are permitted to operate from 127 to more than 2,000. Feitó said there would be 124 exceptions but did not provide details on what these would be. She said that there were more than 600,000 people in the non-state sector, some 13% of the labour force, who are all designated as self-employed. This is the Cuban government’s latest bid to shore up the domestic economy which is projected to have shrunk by 11% in 2020 as a result of the triple crisis posed by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its impact on the island’s crucial tourism sector; US economic sanctions; and the ongoing economic collapse of key ally Venezuela. It follows other economic policy changes such as the devaluation of the Cuban peso and reorganisation of the monetary system which took effect at the start of the year.