The economy of Cuba traditionally has been commodity based. Sugar, derivatives from sugar, including rum, tobacco, nickel and other commodities command little pricing flexibility and Cuba is at the mercy of world prices. Tourism and biotechnology had been the new growth engines for Cuba. Cuba has suffered along with many other tourist destinations after the Sept. 11, 2002 attacks against the USA. Additionally, biotechnology products produced in Cuba can not be sold in countries where valid patents are enforced against pharmaceuticals possibly infringed upon by Cuban products. Therefore, the economy of Cuba remains delicate at best despite new friendships with Venezuela, China and Iran.
The Cuban economy continues its shift to become more diversified than relying simply on agriculture, esp. sugar cane, as a booster of Cuban Gross National Product. Cuba has closed many sugar operations and will be training "laid off" workers for the tourist industry. Finished agricultural goods, such as cigars, continue to be expanded. Over 100 million Cuban cigars were manufactured in 1998. 2007 production will exceed 150 million cigars despite damage due to two hurricanes. Cuba has lost its trademark infringement suit in U.S. courts for the "Cohiba" and "Havana Club" trademarks. Cuba has threatened not to protect trademarks of U.S. corporations within Cuba in retaliation. The European Union is unhappy with the continuing trademark disputes between European companies using controversial trademarks derived from products and services arising from Cuba. A new brand of Habanos, Vegueros, is being produced in the Francisco Donatien factory. The cigars once reserved for visiting diplomats, the "Trinidad", is now being produced in commercial quantities to be sold overseas. The Port of Houston signed an agreement in March 2004 that should pave the way for more Texas trade with Cuba. Nebraska has made three trips to Cuba through 2007 with large sales consummated each trip.
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