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LatinNews Daily - 21 May 2021

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In brief: Cuba optimistic on economic growth

* Cuba’s economy minister, Alejandro Gil Fernández, has said Cuba’s economy could grow 6% this year after contracting 11% in 2020 as a result of the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and US economic sanctions. Gil said that the main obstacle to economic development was the decades-old US economic embargo which cost the country US$5.5bn over the past year. He also alluded to the impact of a new reform which took effect at the start of the year, ending Cuba’s dual currency system, which comprised of a convertible peso (CUC, pegged to the US dollar) and a domestic peso (CUP – with an exchange rate of 24 to the CUC). The minister said that as of the end of the first quarter of 2021, just over 500 companies had registered losses while some 1,300 had posted profits following the scrapping of hte CUC.