Cuba to legalize small, medium-sized private businesses
HAVANA — Cuba announced Tuesday that it will legalize small- and medium-sized private businesses in a move that could significantly expand private enterprise in one of the world's last communist countries.
Cuban business owners and economic experts said they were hopeful the reform would allow private firms to import wholesale supplies and export products to other countries for the first time, removing a major obstacle to private business growth.
“This is a tremendously important step,” said Alfonso Valentin Larrea Barroso, director-general of Scenius, a cooperatively run economic consulting firm in Havana. “They're creating, legally speaking, the non-state sector of the economy. They're making that sector official.”
While the government offered no immediate further details, the new business categories appear to be the next stage in reforms initiated by President Rául Castro after he took over from his brother Fidel Castro in 2008. While those reforms have allowed about half a million Cubans to start work in the private sector, the process has been slow and marked by periodic reversals.
The government has regularly cracked down on private businesses that flourish and compete with Cuba's chronically inefficient state monopolies.