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Cuban Cigar Exports Continue to Grow, with a Focus on China

Jorge Dominguez

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With a background as a former professor, Jorge Dominguez, PhD, has focused on Latin American countries throughout his career and served as the Harvard University vice provost for international affairs. One of Jorge Dominguez’s particular areas of emphasis has been on understanding the complex socialist and capitalist dynamics impacting Cuba.

As reported in Reuters, one bright spot in the Cuban economy has been cigars, with sales of Habanos S.A. products reaching $500 million in 2017. Representing a joint venture between Imperial Brands, PLC, of England and the Cuban state, the company has a monopoly on Cuban production and represents premium hand-rolled brands such as Montecristo, Partagas, and Cohiba.
With Spain and France Habanos S.A.’s leading export markets, much of the company’s growth is attributed to demand from what is now the third-largest market for Cuban cigars, China. Sales to China had a particular boost in 2016, when they grew by 33 percent, with about half of demand concentrated on the iconic Cohiba brand. A current focus is on diversifying the Asian market. Xinhua reports that Habanos S.A. is presently working on an exclusive commemorative product for the Chinese Spring Festival in 2020.

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