Analysis and Studies - Country Analysis

Cuba: a look at the market

Cuba, whose capital is Havana, was a Spanish colony for several centuries (since the arrival of Columbus in 1492) until 1898, when it won independence from Spain: however, it wasn’t formally independent until 1902, after a few years of being administered by the United States. Nowadays it’s a socialist republic and deals with many problems: with Castro’s rule and the closeness with the Soviet Union the United States began the embargo, blocking any economic, commercial, and financial relationships with Cuba. As well as the economic isolation, Cubans have faced a lack of access to telecommunications and a poor human rights situation.

The flag consists of five horizontal bands where the colors blue and white are alternating, and on the left there is a red triangle containing a white five-point star in the center: the three blue bands refer to the three old divisions of the island (central, occidental, and oriental) while the white ones symbolizes the purity of the independence ideal; the triangle stands for freedom, equality, and fraternity, red color denotes the fight and the sacrifices made for independence; the white star, known as La Estrella Solitaria, illuminates the path to freedom and was inspired by the flag of Texas.

In 2022 Cuba was the 161st in the world in terms of total exports with a trade of $1.07B and the 154th in total imports with a trade of $3.51B.


According to the RCA index Cuba has a high level of specialization in Wood Charcoal ($41M), Rolled Tobacco ($275M), Nickel Mattes ($163M), Zinc Ore ($127M), and Honey ($20.4M).


  In 2022 the most exported product was Rolled Tobacco with a trade of $275M, ahead of Nickel Mattes ($163M), Zinc Ore ($127M), Hard Liquor ($102M), and Raw Sugar ($67.2M) and the most important destinations for Cuban exports were China (39.9%), Spain (13%), Germany (5.48%), Portugal (4.06%), and Switzerland (3.88%).


 In 2022 the most imported product was Poultry Meat ($365M), followed by Concentrated Milk ($115M), Soybean Oil ($108M), Corn ($105M), and Wheat ($102M) and the countries from which Cuba imported the most were Spain (23.2%), China (11.5%), United States (9.71%), Brazil (8.27%), and Netherlands (6.41%).


We can notice a mix of diversification and dependency: there’s a heavy reliance on Chinese markets for its minerals and raw sugar whereas European markets are more present as destination to tobacco and liquor exports. For minerals and sugar, Cuba seems to be dependent from China, risking to be strongly vulnerable to shifts in Chinese demand. The diversified markets of tobacco and liquor can represent an opportunity for growth and expansion, decreasing dependency on any single country.

  1. Rolled tobacco (25.8%):13.6% Germany, 13% Switzerland, 11.1% Cyprus, 10.5% Macau, 9.76% Spain, 2.28% China, 0.9% Portugal
  2. Nickel mattes (15.3%): 100% China
  3. Zinc ore (11.9%): 100% China
  4. Hard liquor (9.55%): 41.9% Spain, 7.37% United Kingdom, 6.13% Germany, 3.94% Switzerland, 2.9% Chile, 2.35% Canada, 0.6% China,
  5. Raw sugar (6.3%): 58.9% China, 40% Portugal, 0.63% Italy, 0.44% Germany

We can observe significant dependencies on the United States and Brazil for key food products, with notable contributions from European and South American countries in specific categories. In some categories there’s a more balanced distribution among several countries, enhancing some stability in supply, but there’s high reliance on a few countries for essential commodities.


European countries play a crucial role in supplying wheat and concentrated milk. France and Germany are particularly important for wheat, while the Netherlands and Belgium are notable for dairy products.

  1. Poultry Meat (10.4%): 81% United States, 10.4% Brazil, 7.96% Netherlands, 0.14% Spain
  2. Concentrated milk (3.29%): 32.5% New Zealand, 24.5% Uruguay, 16.8% Argentina, 11.8% Belgium, 6.84% Netherlands, 0.51% Brazil, 0.22% Spain, 0.08% United States
  3. Soybean oil (3.09%): 87.7% Brazil, 7.56% Argentina, 3,84% Dominican Republic, 0.52% Spain
  4. Corn (3%):75.7% Argentina, 16.3% Brazil, 7.85% United States
  5. Wheat (2.92%): 74% France, 26% Germany

The markets that had a fastest growth as regards exports between 2021 and 2022 were Spain ($20.7M), Macau ($9.89M) and United Kingdom ($7.72M). Whereas as far as concerns the imports the country who grew the fastest was Brazil with an increase of $110M, ahead of Spain ($71.3M) and Netherlands ($65.8M)


  1. Spain: from $118M to $139M
  2. Macau: from $19M to $28.9M
  3. United Kingdom: from $7.74M to $15.5M


  1. Brazil: from $180M to $290M
  2. Spain: from $741M to $812M
  3. Netherlands: from $159M to $225M