One of the main measures requested by the Cuban population, especially Cubans living abroad and people traveling to other countries, is the relaxation of customs rules on products that are imported on a non-commercial basis.
The most recent customs rules, established in 2014, specify the quantity of each product that a person can bring into the country without being considered an import of a commercial nature.
In 2020, during the worst of the pandemic, the Cuban government decided to relax the entry of food, medicines and toiletries.
Currently, a temporary rule, extended several times, establishes that these categories of items can pass customs controls and there is no import limit.
However, food, medicines and toiletries are not the only products in short supply in Cuba.
There are also no clothes, shoes, household appliances or household products on the crisis-stricken island.
What little there is is sold mainly in the freely convertible currency stores, the unpopular MLC stores.
On Thursday, July 21, the Cuban Minister of Economy and Planning, Alejandro Gil, announced several measures aimed, at least on paper, at advancing the recovery of the national economy.
Some of these measures seem to have been taken with the purpose of calming the spirits of the citizens, who have staged several protests and pots and pans in recent weeks.
Among the measures announced there is one of great impact: the relaxation of non-commercial imports, a long-standing demand of many Cubans.
Among the actions to comply with this measure is to define the non-commercial nature of the import of various goods. There are changes in the valuations and in the quantities of items that can be brought into Cuba.
It is also foreseen to increase the amount allowed to import some items such as: cell phones, computers, tablets, tires, rims, among others.
The import limit for shipments will also be increased from the current 10 kg to 20 kg.
The import value per kg will be reduced from USD 20 to USD 10 and the duty exemption on delivery of packages up to 3 kg will be increased (currently the limit is 1.5 kg).
In addition, the payment of customs duties will be reduced by 70%.
Several economists and academics have been suggesting measures such as the relaxation of customs rules for years, not only as a way to increase the supply of goods into Cuba, but also as a method of circumventing the U.S. embargo and sanctions.
Although the date on which these measures will begin to be implemented is unknown, according to statements by the Minister of Economy, it should be as soon as possible to allow, together with others that were announced, the country’s economic life to begin to recover.