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Cuban economy shows "discrete progress" in 2017: minister
Last Updated: 2017-12-20 15:47 | Xinhua
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Cuba's economy showed "discrete progress" this year despite "financial and cash constraints" and the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma, Economy and Planning Minister Ricardo Cabrisas said Tuesday.

"The economy was severely restricted and operated under difficult circumstances due to the lack of foreign currency to make payments and the availability of refined oil products," Cabrisas was quoted by local media as saying while addressing lawmakers of the economic affairs working group of Cuba's National Assembly.

The island country's economy is expected to grow 2 percent in 2017 and official figures will be released by Cabrisas on Thursday when lawmakers gather for this year's final session at the parliament.

Cuba's economy shrank 0.9 percent in 2016 due to a cash shortage and a decrease of export revenue as its trade partners' economies weren't doing well.

Cabrisas said the "intensification" of the U.S. embargo against the island as well as the rollback in the thawing of ties with Washington after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump also affected the country's economy in 2017.

"However, not everything is negative and there has been significant growth in the tourism sector, which this year attracted more than 4.5 million visitors to our nation," he said.

For next year, Cabrisas added that there will be "priorities" in the economic plan with an emphasis on recovery from hurricane damage and investments in infrastructure development.

The government will also focus on increasing food production, the sugar harvest and the sustainability of basic services for the people, he added.

"The tense financial situation will persist in 2018, therefore a realistic plan must be designed to guarantee expected incomes, eliminate unnecessary expenses, make progress in crucial investment programs and assure the rational use of resources," he said.

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