Like many other third-world countries, Cuba relies quite heavily on exports to provide for the needs of its population. This means that a large percentage of the countries GDP is sent off abroad as Cuba exports instead of being enjoyed by the country’s own people, and it also allows for a steady influx of much needed foreign currency.

Currently Cuba’s main export items are sugar, nickel, manufactured tobacco, shellfish, fruit juices, and lime, cement, and fabricated construction materials, and medicical and pharmaceutical products. Just last year the country made almost $3 billion from the export trade. Almost 42% of the country’s trade is conducted with Canada  and the Netherlands, China is another significant trade partner with approximately 18% of the country’s trade, and a small portion or approximately 6% of exports also sees its way to Spain. However these figures should not mislead you into thinking that the country is well-off. As one of the poorest countries in the world, all of these profits will make their way into the national treasury and none will trickle down to  the population.

Besides these Cuban exports, the country is also engaged in the production of petroleum oils, bituminous oils, raw tobacco, alcoholic beverages, fruit and nuts, coffee, ores, iron, medicaments and alcohols and phenols. Though yields can at times be quite high, the country still faces widespread poverty and it is struggling to free itself from this. The government continues to balance the need for economic loosening against a desire for firm political control.

Exports 2001-2005
no. Product group Value 2001
US$ ‘000
Value 2002
US$ ‘000
Value 2003
US$ ‘000
Value 2004
US$ ‘000
Value 2005
US$ ‘000
1 Live animals except fish 979 2,183 2,168
2 Meat of bovine animals, fresh, chilled or frozen 45 89
3 Other meat and edible meat offal, fresh, chilled or frozen (except meat and meat offal unfit or unsuitable for human consumption) 143 28
4 Meat and edible meat offal, prepared or preserved, n.e.s. 27 9 5
5 Milk and cream and milk products other than butter or cheese 48 127 174
6 Butter and other fats and oils derived from milk 12 9 1
7 Cheese and curd 39 23 23
8 Eggs, birds’, and egg yolks, fresh, dried or otherwise preserved, sweetened or not; egg albumin 1 0 38
9 Fish, fresh (live or dead), chilled or frozen 1,067 2,714 2,607
10 Fish, dried, salted or in brine; smoked fish (whether or not cooked before or during the smoking process); flours, meals and pellets of fish, fit for human 52 57 46
11 Crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic invertebrates, whether in shell or not, fresh (live or dead), chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine; crustaceans, in 77,002 94,468 59,968
12 Fish, crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates, prepared or preserved, n.e.s. 709 541 694
13 Meal and flour of wheat and flour of meslin 10 6 1,847
14 Cereal preparations and preparations of flour or starch of fruits or vegetables 27 0 15
15 Vegetables, fresh, chilled, frozen or simply preserved (including dried leguminous vegetables); roots, tubers and other edible vegetable products, n.e.s., 352 122 10,994
16 Vegetables, roots and tubers, prepared or preserved, n.e.s. 67 47 62
17 Fruit and nuts (not including oil nuts), fresh or dried 11,853 7,630 9,317
18 Fruit, preserved, and fruit preparations (excluding fruit juices) 295 395 950
19 Fruit juices (including grape must) and vegetable juices, unfermented and not containing added spirit, whether or not containing added sugar or other sweet 49,526 21,645 37,911
20 Sugars, molasses and honey 551,052 454,085 297,141
21 Sugar confectionery 56 24 25
22 Coffee and coffee substitutes 9,913 8,251 6,800
23 Cocoa 1,181 1,993 1,987
24 Chocolate and other food preparations containing cocoa, n.e.s. 1 17 1
25 Spices 1 3
26 Feeding stuff for animals (not including unmilled cereals) 28 10
27 Edible products and preparations, n.e.s. 129 156 115
28 Non-alcoholic beverages, n.e.s. 62 73 64
29 Alcoholic beverages 15,084 18,028 22,815
30 Tobacco, unmanufactured; tobacco refuse 21,963 21,165 18,206
31 Tobacco, manufactured (whether or not containing tobacco substitutes) 241,162 123,107 196,960
32 Hides and skins (except furskins), raw 127 44 127
33 Oil-seeds and oleaginous fruits, whole or broken, of a kind used for the extraction of other fixed vegetable oils (including flours and meals of oil-seeds 58 28 47
34 Fuel wood (excluding wood waste) and wood charcoal 3 75
35 Wood, simply worked, and railway sleepers of wood 48 83 175
36 Pulp and waste paper 134 73
37 Worn clothing and other worn textile articles; rags 0 3 34
38 Fertilizers, crude 3 26 49
39 Stone, sand and gravel 1,419 1,075 1,048
40 Natural abrasives, n.e.s. (including industrial diamonds) 2
41 Other crude minerals 233 103 150
42 Ferrous waste and scrap; remelting scrap ingots of iron or steel 2,681 4,754 6,458
43 Copper ores and concentrates; copper mattes; cement copper 291
44 Nickel ores and concentrates; nickel mattes, nickel oxide sinters and other intermediate products of nickel metallurgy 462,107 429,813 616,985
45 Ores and concentrates of base metals, n.e.s. 1,284 762 1,337
46 Non-ferrous base metal waste and scrap, n.e.s. 4,831 21,053 23,825
47 Ores and concentrates of precious metals; waste, scrap and sweepings of precious metals (other than of gold) 9,568 2,602 2,106
48 Crude animal materials, n.e.s. 1,106 1,239 1,146
49 Crude vegetable materials, n.e.s. 1,660 1,516 1,665
50 Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (other than crude); preparations, n.e.s., containing by weight 70% or more of petroleum oils or o 24,725 5,685 25,097
51 Residual petroleum products, n.e.s., and related materials 14 26 33
52 Fixed vegetable fats and oils, soft, crude, refined or fractionated 1 1,588
53 Animal or vegetable fats and oils, processed; waxes; inedible mixtures or preparations of animal or vegetable fats or oils, n.e.s. 236 215 219
54 Hydrocarbons, n.e.s., and their halogenated, sulphonated, nitrated or nitrosated derivatives 1 67 80
55 Alcohols, phenols, phenol-alcohols, and their halogenated, sulphonated, nitrated or nitrosated derivatives 8,166 7,434 4,924
56 Carboxylic acids and their anhydrides, halides, peroxides and peroxyacids; their halogenated, sulphonated, nitrated or nitrosated derivatives 4 6
57 Nitrogen-function compounds 116 64 8
58 Organo-inorganic compounds, heterocyclic compounds, nucleic acids and their salts, and sulphonamides 75 16
59 Other organic chemicals 0 19 25
60 Inorganic chemical elements, oxides and halogen salts 98 138 280
61 Metal salts and peroxysalts, of inorganic acids 21 70 29
62 Radioactive and associated materials 1 3
63 Synthetic organic colouring matter and colour lakes, and preparations based thereon 5
64 Dyeing and tanning extracts, and synthetic tanning materials 35
65 Pigments, paints, varnishes and related materials 37 56 7
66 Medicinal and pharmaceutical products, other than medicaments of group 542 32,715 43,937 33,643
67 Medicaments (including veterinary medicaments) 8,225 7,396 28,469
68 Essential oils, perfume and flavour materials 1,750 2,159 1,504
69 Perfumery, cosmetic or toilet preparations (excluding soaps) 480 627 356
70 Soap, cleansing and polishing preparations 90 16 1
71 Fertilizers, manufactured 10 54 1,754
72 Polymers of ethylene, in primary forms 25 6 14
73 Polymers of vinyl chloride or of other halogenated olefins, in primary forms 334 201 206
74 Other plastics, in primary forms 0 8
75 Waste, parings and scrap, of plastics 12 30
76 Tubes, pipes and hoses, and fittings therefor, of plastics 2 63 20
77 Plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of plastics 23 6 5
78 Insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, herbicides, anti-sprouting products and plant-growth regulators, disinfectants and similar products, put up in form 1,558 718 292
79 Starches, inulin and wheat gluten; albuminoidal substances; glues 0 94
80 Explosives and pyrotechnic products 217 285 273
81 Prepared additives for mineral oils and the like; prepared liquids for hydraulic transmission; anti-freezing preparations and prepared de-icing fluids; lub 0 0 67
82 Miscellaneous chemical products, n.e.s. 480 1,607 2,974
83 Leather 2,423 2,096 1,821
84 Manufactures of leather or of composition leather, n.e.s.; saddlery and harness 8 2 8
85 Materials of rubber (e.g., pastes, plates, sheets, rods, thread, tubes, of rubber) 2 7 12
86 Rubber tyres, interchangeable tyre treads, tyre flaps and inner tubes for wheels of all kinds 47 121
87 Articles of rubber, n.e.s. 26 9 14
88 Veneers, plywood, particle board, and other wood, worked, n.e.s. 132 181 146
89 Wood manufactures, n.e.s. 680 105 136
90 Paper and paperboard 2,452 1,656 1,471
91 Paper and paperboard, cut to size or shape, and articles of paper or paperboard 813 926 84,811
92 Textile yarn 38 117 148
93 Cotton fabrics, woven (not including narrow or special fabrics) 441 304 36
94 Fabrics, woven, of man-made textile materials (not including narrow or special fabrics) 40 79 37
95 Other textile fabrics, woven 834 1,551 698
96 Knitted or crocheted fabrics (including tubular knit fabrics, n.e.s., pile fabrics and openwork fabrics), n.e.s. 94
97 Tulles, lace, embroidery, ribbons, trimmings and other smallwares 75 55 4
98 Special yarns, special textile fabrics and related products 436 446 126
99 Made-up articles, wholly or chiefly of textile materials, n.e.s. 254 888 299
100 Floor coverings, etc. 2 1
101 Lime, cement, and fabricated construction materials (except glass and clay materials) 34,158 34,998 34,120
102 Clay construction materials and refractory construction materials 7 8 15
103 Mineral manufactures, n.e.s. 179 450 287
104 Glass 19 2 11
105 Glassware 138 10 4
106 Pottery 28 40 37
107 Pig-iron, spiegeleisen, sponge iron, iron or steel granules and powders and ferro-alloys 317
108 Ingots and other primary forms, of iron or steel; semi-finished products of iron or steel 28,229 31,925 22,810
109 Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, not clad, plated or coated 0 378 0
110 Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, clad, plated or coated 2 25
111 Flat-rolled products of alloy steel 1,034
112 Iron and steel bars, rods, angles, shapes and sections (including sheet piling) 9,127 7,105 10,504
113 Rails or railway track construction material, of iron or steel 9 61
114 Wire of iron or steel 68 79 0
115 Tubes, pipes and hollow profiles, and tube or pipe fittings, of iron or steel 81 4 843
116 Silver, platinum and other metals of the platinum group 63
117 Copper 2,248 3,482 1,659
118 Aluminium 1,038 1,200 1,369
119 Lead 25 90 7
120 Zinc 53 21
121 Miscellaneous non-ferrous base metals employed in metallurgy, and cermets 12 2 66
122 Structures and parts of structures, n.e.s., of iron, steel or aluminium 477 239 359
123 Metal containers for storage or transport 229 97 285
124 Wire products (excluding insulated electrical wiring) and fencing grills 118 165 525
125 Nails, screws, nuts, bolts, rivets and the like, of iron, steel, copper or aluminium 207 233 76
126 Tools for use in the hand or in machines 228 199 312
127 Cutlery 40 202 50
128 Household equipment of base metal, n.e.s. 181 39 4
129 Manufactures of base metal, n.e.s. 992 728 869
130 Steam or other vapour-generating boilers, superheated water boilers, and auxiliary plant for use therewith; parts thereof 69 6 3
131 Steam turbines and other vapour turbines, and parts thereof, n.e.s. 61
132 Internal combustion piston engines, and parts thereof, n.e.s. 242 752 2,921
133 Engines and motors, non-electric (other than those of groups 134, 713 and 718); parts, n.e.s., of these engines and motors 2
134 Rotating electric plant, and parts thereof, n.e.s. 53 194 81
135 Power-generating machinery, and parts thereof, n.e.s. 68 50 44
136 Agricultural machinery (excluding tractors), and parts thereof 2,237 2,189 707
137 Tractors (other than those of headings 744.14 and 744.15) 45 10 93
138 Civil engineering and contractors’ plant and equipment; parts thereof 63 805 601
139 Textile and leather machinery, and parts thereof, n.e.s. 55 19 34
140 Paper mill and pulp mill machinery, paper-cutting machines and other machinery for the manufacture of paper articles; parts thereof 48 1 174
141 Printing and bookbinding machinery, and parts thereof 276 3 117
142 Food-processing machines (excluding domestic); parts thereof 672 943 697
143 Other machinery and equipment specialized for particular industries; parts thereof, n.e.s. 83 47 323
144 Machine tools working by removing metal or other material 40 129 166
145 Machine tools for working metal, sintered metal carbides or cermets, without removing material 633 136 590
146 Parts, n.e.s., and accessories suitable for use solely or principally with the machines falling within groups 731 and 733 (including work or tool holders, 843 1,084 283
147 Metalworking machinery (other than machine tools), and parts thereof, n.e.s. 175 48 5
148 Heating and cooling equipment, and parts thereof, n.e.s. 521 174 179
149 Pumps for liquids, whether or not fitted with a measuring device; liquid elevators; parts for such pumps and liquid elevators 69 36 91
150 Pumps (other than pumps for liquids), air or other gas compressors and fans; ventilating or recycling hoods incorporating a fan, whether or not fitted with 158 91 253
151 Mechanical handling equipment, and parts thereof, n.e.s. 458 22 243
152 Non-electrical machinery, tools and mechanical apparatus, and parts thereof, n.e.s. 200 61 362
153 Ball- or roller bearings 120 18 31
154 Taps, cocks, valves and similar appliances for pipes, boiler shells, tanks, vats or the like, including pressure-reducing valves and thermostatically contr 146 194 615
155 Transmission shafts (including camshafts and crankshafts) and cranks; bearing housings and plain shaft bearings; gears and gearing; ball screws; gearboxes 27 36 47
156 Non-electric parts and accessories of machinery, n.e.s. 19 54 121
157 Office machines 30 8 19
158 Automatic data-processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machine 761 1,370 3,438
159 Parts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with machines falling within groups 751 and 7 291 210 113
160 Television receivers (including video monitors and video projectors), whether or not incorporating radio-broadcast receivers or sound- or video-recording o 191 5 20,911
161 Radio-broadcast receivers, whether or not incorporating sound-recording or reproducing apparatus or a clock 67 9 10
162 Sound recorders or reproducers; television image and sound recorders or reproducers; prepared unrecorded media 233 85 7,218
163 Telecommunications equipment, n.e.s., and parts, n.e.s., and accessories of apparatus falling within groups 761, 762 and 763 1,226 1,513 555
164 Electric power machinery (other than rotating electric plant of group 716), and parts thereof 78 124 36
165 Electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits or for making connections to or in electrical circuits (e.g., switches, relays, fuses, 290 199 123
166 Equipment for distributing electricity, n.e.s. 719 702 451
167 Electrodiagnostic apparatus for medical, surgical, dental or veterinary purposes, and radiological apparatus 5,023 4,295 1,460
168 Household-type electrical and non-electrical equipment, n.e.s. 279 52 117
169 Thermionic, cold cathode or photo-cathode valves and tubes (e.g., vacuum or vapour or gas-filled valves and tubes, mercury arc rectifying valves and tubes, 273 754 798
170 Electrical machinery and apparatus, n.e.s. 481 453 705
171 Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons (other than motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, 95 142 29
172 Motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special-purpose motor vehicles 169
173 Road motor vehicles, n.e.s. 79 1,107 2,661
174 Parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of groups 722, 781, 782 and 783 94 112 283
175 Motor cycles (including mopeds) and cycles, motorized and non-motorized; invalid carriages 205 326 25
176 Trailers and semi-trailers; other vehicles, not mechanically-propelled; specially designed and equipped transport containers 444 69 91
177 Railway vehicles (including hovertrains) and associated equipment 19 19 16
178 Aircraft and associated equipment; spacecraft (including satellites) and spacecraft launch vehicles; parts thereof 2,406 9,951 123
179 Ships, boats (including hovercraft) and floating structures 3 653 1,490
180 Prefabricated buildings 632 653 1,171
181 Sanitary, plumbing and heating fixtures and fittings, n.e.s. 7 0 0
182 Lighting fixtures and fittings, n.e.s. 176 131 42
183 Furniture and parts thereof; bedding, mattresses, mattress supports, cushions and similar stuffed furnishings 1,061 487 750
184 Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, executive cases, briefcases, school satchels, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, spectacle cases, gu 18 47 41
185 Men’s or boys’ coats, capes, jackets, suits, blazers, trousers, shorts, shirts, underwear, nightwear and similar articles of textile fabrics, not knitted o 612 1,329 684
186 Women’s or girls’ coats, capes, jackets, suits, trousers, shorts, shirts, dresses and skirts, underwear, nightwear and similar articles of textile fabrics, 691 603 86
187 Men’s or boys’ coats, capes, jackets, suits, blazers, trousers, shorts, shirts, underwear, nightwear and similar articles of textile fabrics, knitted or cr 1 114 0
188 Women’s or girls’ coats, capes, jackets, suits, trousers, shorts, shirts, dresses and skirts, underwear, nightwear and similar articles of textile fabrics, 431 299 0
189 Articles of apparel, of textile fabrics, whether or not knitted or crocheted, n.e.s. 156 208 104
190 Clothing accessories, of textile fabrics, whether or not knitted or crocheted (other than those for babies) 7 14 21
191 Articles of apparel and clothing accessories of other than textile fabrics; headgear of all materials 7 112 15
192 Footwear 244 177 58
193 Optical instruments and apparatus, n.e.s. 19 26 21
194 Instruments and appliances, n.e.s., for medical, surgical, dental or veterinary purposes 473 746 5,379
195 Meters and counters, n.e.s. 57 85 125
196 Measuring, checking, analysing and controlling instruments and apparatus, n.e.s. 213 1,989 1,511
197 Photographic apparatus and equipment, n.e.s. 62 31 86
198 Photographic and cinematographic supplies 13 33
199 Cinematographic film, exposed and developed, whether or not incorporating soundtrack or consisting only of soundtrack 12 8 210
200 Optical goods, n.e.s. 26 5 189
201 Watches and clocks 22 83 79
202 Printed matter 1,723 1,411 1,405
203 Articles, n.e.s., of plastics 99 205 178
204 Baby carriages, toys, games and sporting goods 38 18 83
205 Office and stationery supplies, n.e.s. 176 6 5
206 Works of art, collectors’ pieces and antiques 873 909 1,281
207 Jewellery, goldsmiths’ and silversmiths’ wares, and other articles of precious or semiprecious materials, n.e.s. 200 318 177
208 Musical instruments and parts and accessories thereof; records, tapes and other sound or similar recordings (excluding goods of groups 763 and 883) 604 506 19,175
209 Miscellaneous manufactured articles, n.e.s. 40 100 70
210 Special transactions and commodities not classified according to kind 22
211 Coin (other than gold coin), not being legal tender 186 220 411
212 Gold, non-monetary (excluding gold ores and concentrates) 1,194
Data in the table is taken from the COMTRADE database of the United Nations Statistics Division. Copyright by the United Nations, 1997. All rights reserved.