Cuba’s GDP growth of 4 percent in first-half

iStock_000003724777XSmallHAVANA,  June 22  (Reuters) The Cuban economy will grow 4 percent in the first half of 2015, in line with official forecasts on the strength of increases in sugar production, manufacturing, construction and trade, Economy Minister Marino Murrillo said.

Murrillo delivered an update on the economy to the cabinet on Friday that was covered in official media on Monday. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth was up from 1.3 percent, the latest official estimate for all of 2014.
In December, Cuba aggressively forecast 4 percent growth for 2015 just days after announcing detente with the United States, apparently banking on improved relations with its longtime nemesis helping to improve the economy.

Cuba had announced previously this year that the recently concluded sugar harvest was up 18 percent, tourism over the first four months of the year was up 15 percent from the same period of 2014, and that overall agriculture was up 13 percent over the first three months of the year.

However, the areas of transportation, warehousing and communications were falling short of expectations this year, Murrillo told the cabinet, according to a report in the official daily Granma. The trade balance remained positive for the first six months of the year, the report said, but at the cost of shortages of imported food items in stores that generate hard currency.

In response, Cuba will dedicate an extra $40 million to import products such as cheese, chicken and cured meats, the report said.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)