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Atlantic CouncilADRIENNE ARSHTLATIN AMERICA CENTERCuba’s EconomicReintegrationBegin with the InternationalFinancial InstitutionsThe Right Step for Improvingthe Lives of Cuba’s CitizensBy Pavel Vidal and Scott Brown


Atlantic CouncilADRIENNE ARSHTLATIN AMERICA CENTERThe Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin AmericaCenter is dedicated to broadening awareness of thetransformational political, economic, and social changesthroughout Latin America. It is focused on bringing in newpolitical, corporate, civil society, and academic leadersto change the fundamental nature of discussions on LatinAmerica and to develop new ideas and innovative policyrecommendations that highlight the region’s potential asa strategic and economic partner for Europe, the UnitedStates, and beyond. The nonpartisan Arsht Center beganoperations in October 2013.This report is written and published in accordance withthe Atlantic Council Policy on Intellectual Independence.The authors are solely responsible for its analysis andrecommendations. The Atlantic Council and its donorsdo not determine, nor do they necessarily endorse oradvocate for, any of this report’s conclusions.© 2015 The Atlantic Council of the United States. All rightsreserved. No part of this publication may be reproducedor transmitted in any form or by any means withoutpermission in writing from the Atlantic Council, exceptin the case of brief quotations in news articles, criticalarticles, or reviews. Please direct inquiries to:Atlantic Council1030 15th Street NW, 12th FloorWashington, DC 20005Cover photo credit: Joel Carillet/iStock.ISBN: 978-1-61977-988-4July 2015AcknowledgementsThis report was produced with the extraordinary helpof a number of Atlantic Council colleagues. In theAdrienne Arsht Latin America Center, Rachel DeLevie-Orey, assistant director, passionately helps to guide ourCuba portfolio with her encyclopedia of knowledge andinsight on the island; she saw this report through fromconceptualization to publication. Carmen Muñoz, programassistant, yet again provided invaluable editing andproofreading as well as overall strategic guidance. MariaFernanda Pérez, program assistant, stepped in to help theteam with the English-language translation of the originalreport. In the communications department, we would liketo specifically thank Nonna Gorilovskaya, associate editor,and Romain Warnault, publications and graphic designcoordinator, for their endless flexibility and hard work.Our consultant, Donald Partyka, designed yet anotherexcellent report for the Arsht Center.


Cuba’s EconomicReintegrationBegin with the InternationalFinancial InstitutionsThe Right Step for Improvingthe Lives of Cuba’s CitizensBy Pavel Vidal and Scott Brown


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsForewordLast year, the Adrienne Arsht Latin AmericaCenter released a nationwide poll thatfound widespread support for engagementwith Cuba. It called attention to aradical shift in American public opinion and helpedgive President Barack Obama the political proof heneeded to change five decades of failed policy.Since then, seismic changes in US-Cuba relationshave reshaped the landscape of each country’sinteractions with Latin America and the global community.Ongoing negotiations and new legislationcontinue to dismantle this relic of Cold War policy.Such progress is applauded across the world.US policy toward the island is in transition.In light of the President’s executive orders inDecember, we are now seeing movement inCongress. Support is growing for removal of thetravel ban. Trade, telecommunications, finance, andcompensation for nationalized property will allbe part of the agenda, as will human rights—a keypoint of contention given the lack of democraticfreedoms for the Cuban people.Cuba is also in a historic period of transition.President Raúl Castro plans to step down in2018. To jumpstart Cuba’s economy, he will needto accelerate the fiscal and monetary reformsstarted in 2008. International financial institutions(IFIs), including the International Monetary Fund(IMF), the World Bank, and the Inter-AmericanDevelopment Bank (IDB), hold the key to easingCuba through a tough transition to a more stableeconomic model that will better the lives of itspeople. Cuba’s reintegration will inevitably spurunprecedented economic change. As this paperdiscusses, this transformation is precisely whatoccurred in previously closed economies that choseto rejoin the global economy.But significant obstacles exist to Cuban admissionto the IFIs. A series of US laws require USrepresentatives to the IFIs to oppose such admissionas well as any multilateral funding for Cuba.Castro himself has been an outspoken critic of theIFIs, long-seen by the Cuban government as agentsof imperialism and neoliberalism. Still, signs pointto the potential of a new mindset around rejoiningthese institutions, with Castro greatly diminishinghis vitriol against the IFIs in recent years.US policymakers should recognize the tremendousvalue of Cuban membership in the IFIs forbilateral relations with Cuba and the United States’international position. The United States is the onlymajor country that continues to impose economicsanctions against Cuba, a point that has consistentlyhindered its image and stature abroad. SupportingCuban participation in the IFIs, or even the lesspolitically-toxic option of simply avoiding vocalopposition, will do much more than just strengthenpartnerships with democratic allies around theglobe. IFI monies and technical advice to modernizesectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, banking,and tourism will be critical to renewing the island’seconomic vibrancy and creating new possibilities forCubans to improve their lives.The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center isdedicated to facilitating US-Cuban rapprochement.A new era will pay dividends for the United States’interests in the hemisphere and beyond. With thepublication of this report, we hope to provide atangible and achievable method for advancing theprocess of reengagement between these two countriesas well as the necessary reintegration of Cubainto global economic systems.Peter SchechterDirectorAdrienne Arsht Latin America CenterJason MarczakDeputy DirectorAdrienne Arsht Latin America CenterATLANTIC COUNCIL 1


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsTable ofContents3 Executive Summary5 Reforms Are Here... and More Are Coming6 Why Join the IFIs?An Economy with Promise but Needing HelpHow the IFIs Can AssistA Helping Hand in Tackling Pending ReformsChallenges for the Cuban GovernmentHow Can Cuba Gain Membership?11 Global ExperiencesAlbania’s Entry into the Global Financial SystemSidebar: The Vietnamese Experience16 Why Should the United States Support Cuba’s Reintegration?What Is the Best Way to Help the Cuban People?18 Recommendations for Cuba, the United States, and the InternationalFinancial Institutions20 Endnotes21 About the Authors2 ATLANTIC COUNCIL


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsExecutive SummaryPETE SOUZA/WHITE HOUSEThe new US policytoward Cubacomes at a criticalmoment, with itsimpact reaching far beyondthe Florida Straits. SincePresident Obama’s historicannouncement in December2014, Havana has welcomedthe Presidents of France andTurkey, the Foreign Ministersof Japan and the Netherlands,the Director of Diplomacyfor the European Union, theGovernor of New York, and ahost of other policymakersand entrepreneurs from theUnited States. Pope Francisis scheduled to visit inSeptember.Engagement will be critical to buttressing thegovernment’s appetite for reform. After twentyfiveyears of post-Soviet adjustment and patchyresults from limited reforms, a consensus existsthat the economic system and old institutionsrequire a fundamental overhaul. The Cuban governmentis cognizant of the imperative to allowthe “nonstate,” or private sector, to grow. It is theonly way to slim down the public sector withoutmassive unemployment.Now that Cuba has caught the eye of foreigninvestors and the international community, it is agood time to reignite discussion on Cuba’s reintegrationinto the global economy. As with so manyother countries before, the critical first step willbe to regain access to the international financialinstitutions (IFIs), with a particular focus on thePresident Barack Obama talks with President Raúl Castro on December 16,2014, opening new communication one day before historic policy changes.International Monetary Fund (IMF), the WorldBank, and the Inter-American Development Bank(IDB).Accession would serve the interests of Cubaand its citizens, the United States, and the internationalcommunity. In Cuba, the process ofeconomic reform is at a pivotal moment, and moreprogress is needed to lift the economy on to a newgrowth trajectory before President Raúl Castrois to step down in 2018. Accession will requireadjustments: improving data and transparency,aggressively working to unify the two currencies,and shifting official attitudes. But in the context ofthe new relationship with the United States, theseshould not be difficult.The experiences of other former communistcountries can provide lessons for Cuba. Albania,ATLANTIC COUNCIL 3


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsCuba is one of only eight countries in the world that are not members of the IMF, headed by Christine Lagarde(pictured above).which joined the IMF in October 1991, has someinteresting parallels. Albania’s first loan fromthe Fund, under a stand-by arrangement, wasapproved in August 1992, and its reengagementwith the global financial system and policyreforms produced significant improvements in thestandard of living. Vietnam offers another positiveexample, with access to IFI support comingafter a period of initial reform. In both countrieseverything from GDP to life expectancy improved.These universal benefits are compelling factors forCuba.For the international community, Cuba’saccession is long overdue. Still, in the UnitedStates, agreement to Cuban accession could faceobjections. However, those objections rest ondiscredited assumptions that sanctions can bringpolitical change and that international supportwill help only the government and not the peopleof Cuba. US backing of Cuban membership in theIFIs would be consistent with the new policy ofhelping to support economic reform. This is aunique opportunity to stimulate further transformationsin Cuba.Three possible approaches exist for Cuba to jointhe IFIs. The first would involve a gradual processof confidence-building between the IFIs and theCuban authorities, with no initial commitmentor date for membership. The second would be amore direct and immediate path, beginning witha Cuban decision to apply for membership. Thethird would be for President Obama to take theinitiative by making a public statement of supportfor Cuba’s accession to the IFIs, claiming hisconstitutional prerogative to define the directionof US foreign policy—much like the leadershipby President George H. W. Bush in advocating forRussian engagement and membership in the IMFin 1991-1992.This report argues that a series of steps canbe taken now—by Cuba, the United States, andthe international community—to pave the wayfor Cuba to be welcomed back as a full and activemember of the international financial institutions.THOMAS DOOLEY/FLICKR4 ATLANTIC COUNCIL


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsReforms Are Here... andMore Are ComingSince 2008, when Raúl Castro tookoffice as President, Cuban societyhas been changing. The economy isundergoing market liberalizations andmacroeconomic adjustments. While the processmay be at an early stage, reforms have alreadytripled the number of private and cooperativebusinesses, state lands have been distributed tofarmers, the purchaseand sale of vehicles andhouses is now permitted,and consumer options(including hotels and cellphones) continue to grow.From a macroeconomicperspective, the governmenthas advanced towardreestablishing fiscal andbalance of paymentsequilibriums, maintainedlow inflation, and promoteda more rationalpublic expenditure. Cubais now diligently fulfillinginternational financialcommitments and makingprogress in renegotiatingits international debts. Raising the level of aggregateinvestment is a top priority—in fact, it is the primaryobjective of the strategy for reviving GDP growth.A seismic shift is underway in two of the fundamentalmechanisms long used to exert control overthe Cuban people: restrictions on the freedom ofmovement and economic activity. Cubans no longerneed the permission of the state to leave the island—temporarily or permanently—and the expansionCollaborationwith internationalfinancialinstitutions couldallow the globalcommunity tosupport Cuba’seconomictransformation.of nonstate activity means that fewer families nowdepend on the state for their income. Citizens havegreater freedom to invest and spend money.Cuban authorities have also announced anincrease in Internet availability, which meansgreater access to information. Although relaxingrestrictions does not mean dismantling them. TheCuban state continues to exert considerable controlover society andthe economy throughextensive state ownershipand command of themain economic activities.Still, the reform processis clearly understood aspart of a journey towarda mixed economy.The process of transformationwas confirmedby the VI Congress ofthe Communist Partyin April 2011, whenfive-year economicpolicy guidelines werelaid out. This five-yearperiod will end in April2016. The VII CommunistParty Congress will then set out the next stage ofthe Cuban reform agenda, where ongoing changesare expected to be deepened. Two years later, in2018, Raúl Castro will end his presidency. These twomoments will mark a turning point in Cuban development.Collaboration with international financialinstitutions could allow the global community toseize this opportunity to support Cuba’s economictransformation.ATLANTIC COUNCIL 5


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsWhy Join the IFIs?An Economy with Promise butNeeding HelpDespite a host of reforms introduced since2008, Cuban economic growth has beenweak. From 2008-2014, average annualGDP growth reached only 2.8 percent. While this isclose to the Latin American and Caribbean average,it is only around half the originally anticipated5.1 percent forecast by the Cuban government.Growth in the agricultural and industrial sectorsfell particularly short of expectations, with averageannual rates of only 0.6 percent and 2.5 percentrespectively, while private household consumptionregistered only 2.6 percent growth—well short ofthe amount needed to provide the hoped-for, andLuis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-AmericanDevelopment Bank, has discussed the possible roadmapfor Cuba to join the IDB.long-awaited, improvement in living standards. 1Over the past decade, growth has been led bythe export of professional (principally medical)services, which have become the primary sourceof foreign currency income. Cuba’s dependence onthis activity—tied to its reliance on oil imports fromVenezuela under very favorable terms—has becomea cause for deep concern in Cuba as the economicand political crisis in Venezuela worsens.One fundamental problem of the Cuban economicmodel is its inability to generate sufficientinvestment. The level of aggregate investment,according to official figures, has languished ataround 10 percent of GDP for the past two decades:only half the regional average and less than aquarter of China’s rate.The government has accepted that it needs moreforeign investment. In 2014, in the hope of attractingan estimated $8 billion in new foreign investment,a foreign direct investment law was introduced,a “Special Development Zone” at the upgradedand expanded Mariel port was inaugurated, anda prospectus of proposed projects was published.Although the targets for new contracts have yet tobe met, foreign business interest has grown. A majorfactor in this renewed attention appears to be therapprochement with the United States. 2How the IFIs Can AssistThe IFIs are in a position to leverage thecapacity of the Cuban economy to attractinvestment and raise the rate of capital formation.Development loans from IFIs would allowCuba to carry out much-needed improvements to itsdepleted infrastructure and would reduce the costJUAN MANUEL HERRERA/OAS/FLICKR6 ATLANTIC COUNCIL


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial Institutionsof doing business. Benefits from IFI support include:• An international vote of confidence in the Cubaneconomy. This would influence attitudes towardCuba in global financial markets. Reducingcountry risk perceptions would support greatereconomic integration, including the possibilityof Cuba’s inclusion in international companies’global value chains. It would also enable Cuba togain access to lower interest rates for internationalfinancing, easing its balance of paymentsconstraint and therefore enabling stronger economicgrowth.• Access to technical assistance and training.Cuban entrepreneurs and policymakers wouldbenefit from this assistanceand the adoptionof international bestpractices. Agriculturecould be modernized.Communications,Internet, and telephonyimprovements canbegin. Enhancementof the tourism sectorcould also draw oninternational training,quality standards,and marketing expertise.Still, the bankingand financial servicessector needs to bestrengthened and legitimizedbefore companies can have a seriouspresence in Cuba.A Helping Hand in Tackling PendingReformsTwo areas of reform will be the focus of theCuban government in the next few years:reform of state-owned companies and currencyunification. Though access to IFIs does notguarantee the success of these reforms, it wouldcertainly help.The state-owned companies that continue tohold a monopoly over most sectors in the Cubaneconomy have already been undergoing deepchanges, with new regulations and proceduresimplemented. But progress on decentralization,reorganization, restructuring, and rationalizationhas been painfully slow, and technologicaldeficiencies and low productivity continue toimpede growth. Through the IFIs, Cuba couldhave access to research and evaluation in thereform of state enterprises.The dual currency system remains anenormous burden on the Cuban economy,distorting all decision-making, negativelyaffecting the management of companies andincreasing financial risk. The over-valued officialexchange rate of theCuban peso, artificiallypegged to the AmericanIFI support couldbe particularlyimportantfor Cuba as itcontemplates thereplacement ofits dual-currencysystem.dollar, has warpedcorporate balance sheets,skewed prices, andreduced competitiveness.Currency unificationhas been predicted andpostponed countlesstimes, contributingto uncertainty on thefuture value of theexchange rate andinflation levels. Butunification is imminent.The result is that—nomatter the attractivenessof foreign investment laws—the dual exchangerate creates a high level of risk for foreigninvestors.IFI support could be particularly importantfor Cuba as it contemplates the replacementof this dual-currency system with a singleadjustable exchange rate. There are risks ofmonetary instability inherent in this process, 3and Havana might welcome guidance onthe design and construction of a monetaryand exchange system that establishes bothfinancial stability and contributes to economicgrowth. The IFIs are well-equipped to supportsuch a process.ATLANTIC COUNCIL 7


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsChallenges for the CubanGovernmentCuba has much to gain with a return to theIFIs, and signs of a change in political conditionsshow that such a move is possible. Fordecades Cuban leaders demonized these institutions,but recent rhetoric has largely ignored them.This change is consistent with Cuba’s efforts toimprove its position in the international markets.It suggests that the country’s leaders are no longerhostile to the official institutions that regulatethose markets, although reservations and criticismscontinue.One major adaptation that Cuba wouldneed to make if itwere to contemplatefull IFI membershipis the preparationof internationallycomparable financialdata. At the moment,the Cuban Central Bankdoes not publish theinformation requiredfor full assessment of itsinternational paymentsposition. The data seriesthat are missing frompublished sources are:• International reserveslevels;• Central Bank balance;• Monetary aggregates for all currencies;• Greater disaggregation of both the current andfinancial accounts of the balance of payments;• Full data on price indices in both currencies;• Assets and liabilities of the financial system; and• Details of the composition of external and domesticdebt.Improved data reliability, timeliness, andtransparency would reduce risk for foreigninvestors and lenders, as well as those engagingin trade. It would help the Cuban authoritiesto achieve their stated objective of attractinginvestment through open competition, with a levelplaying field, and moving away from the existingcentralized (and therefore non-transparentand potentially politically-driven) methods ofdecision-making. This is important not only forthe government’s finances and investors, but alsofor long-term competitiveness. Strong standardsof accountability will help improve access tointernational financing as reforms progress.How Can Cuba Gain Membership?Cuba withdrew from membership in theWorld Bank in 1960, and from the IMF in1964. It was never a member of the IDB,which was founded in 1959, the year of the Cubanrevolution. 3 Today, 188 of the world’s 196 countriesare members of the IMFand World Bank, includingall the sovereignImproveddata reliability,timeliness, andtransparencywould reduce therisk for foreigninvestors andlenders in Cuba.nations of Latin Americaand the Caribbean—except Cuba.Three approaches toCuba’s introduction intothe IFIs are possible.The first is the1establishment ofa gradual process ofreconciliation betweenthe IFIs and Cuba, withno date set for eventualmembership. It wouldbegin with preliminaryexploratory talks,moving on to technical support and training, andthen continue with a process of trust-buildinguntil membership becomes the next step. Thereare precedents for this, as other non-membercountries have undertaken protracted discussionsbefore becoming members, and Cuba has alsopreviously held unofficial talks with officials fromthe IFIs.2The second approach is for the Cubangovernment to formally request membershipin the IMF (which would subsequently open the wayfor World Bank membership) and/or to rejoin theOAS and Inter-American system (the requirementfor IDB membership). Cuba has already been invited8 ATLANTIC COUNCIL


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsHALBAG/FLICKRto rejoin the OAS, but up to this point, it has declined.This is in part because the Cubans worry that theUnited States would try and block this, as with otherIFI memberships. Here, too, the United States shouldfind a way to abstain from this vote, thereby allowingCuban access. This would require a shift in Cubanposition from its past policy stance of declining torejoin, as well as a US policy shift.For the IMF, endorsement from an existingmember country would be needed, and thisThe Cuban government’s renovation of El Capitolio signals the manypotential changes as it seeks to create a new international image.country would serve as its advocate throughoutthe application period. Brazil, a regional powerand a trade partner with Cuba, might serve in thiscapacity.The problem with this approach is that it woulddirectly confront the obstacles created by USsanctions. But, in examining the provisions ofUS rules, these obstacles do not appear to be asinsurmountable as they might first appear.The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity(Libertad) Act of 1996 (known as the Helms-BurtonAct) would appear to be the greatest difficulty. Thelaw mandates not only that US representativesin these institutions must vote against Cubanmembership but also instructs the United Statesto withhold funding from any IFI that grantsassistance to Cuba (the withholding being equal tothe amount of the assistance). The United Statescannot technically block Cuban membership to theIMF, World Bank, or IDB as such decisions requirea majority vote over which the United States doesnot have enough voting share to block. The IMFalso prefers to take important decisions as muchas possible by consensus. However, the issue of USlaw mandating some type of funding withdrawalwould need to be resolved. The implementationof this provision has not been tested, and whetherit could be contested in practice remains open fordebate. It is possibly a matter thatwould end up in court. The thirdapproach for greater IFI engagement(see p. 10) explores this point further.Three other provisions of USlaw also inhibit Cuban admissionin, or funding from, IFIs. First, theVictims of Trafficking and ViolenceProtection Act of 2000 rankscountries based on their adherenceto anti-human trafficking standardsand procedures, and stipulates thatthe President should instruct the USExecutive Directors of IFIs to voteagainst multilateral loans to Tier 3countries, deemed to be the worstperformers. Cuba is currently listedas a Tier 3 country. This law doesnot appear to be an insuperable obstacle, as Cuba’sinclusion in the Tier 3 list is based on its failureto report details of its anti-trafficking actions tothe US authorities, a legacy of previous hostilitiesthat could be put right under the new conditions.Moreover, the law allows the President discretionto waive these restrictions.The second of the provisions is Public Law104-208 (1996), which requires US representativesin multilateral financial institutions to voteagainst funding to countries that do not have asystem of independent civilian audits of militaryexpenditures, which Cuba does not. Again, thiswould not appear to be an insuperable difficultynow that the two governments are willing todiscuss sensitive issues.Finally, the statutory requirement known asthe Gonzalez Amendment (1972) requires thatATLANTIC COUNCIL 9


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsBicycle taxis have become a popular source of private income for Cubans in responseto the growing tourism sector on the island. Could the IFIs help advance this sector?US representatives in the IFIs oppose proposalsfor funding to any country that has nationalized orexpropriated property previously owned by the USgovernment or private US citizens, until an agreementfor proper compensation has been reached. This lawis clearly targeted at Cuba. While this might seem tobe a major hurdle, the talks now being held as part ofthe rapprochement will eventually need to addressthe issue of outstanding claims.3The third option for facilitating IFIengagement is for President Obama toemploy his constitutional right to define theguidelines of US foreign policy and make a publicstatement that the United States does not opposeCuban membership to the IFIs. This would besimilar to the advocacyrole played byPresident George H. W.Bush in 1991-92 vis-àvisIMF engagementand membershipfor Russia and othercountries of theformer Soviet Union.Such a move wouldencounter objectionsand challenges fromsupporters of USsanctions againstCuba, although thePresident would havea strong case. All thelaws that instruct USrepresentatives to voteagainst membershipallow an exception forwhen the Presidentdeclares a decision to be“in the national interest.”These three approaches are not mutuallyexclusive and could be adopted in sequence or inparallel. Assuming the interest of both countries,the best course of action might be determinedthrough bilateral negotiations, in which IFIrepresentatives could be invited to participate.The least risky approach would be the first, whichallows both the Cuban and US governments todetermine how much progress would need tobe made before making the more public movesimplied by the second and third approaches. If andwhen the two sides accept that they might havean interest in Cuba’s IFI membership, there wouldseem to be few obstacles to moving ahead onconfidence-building work.JOHN C. BRUCKMAN/FLICKR10 ATLANTIC COUNCIL


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsGlobal ExperiencesPETER/FLICKRCuba is not the first country to undertakean accession process to the IFIs. Manyothers have done so with Albania andVietnam providing two useful examples.Although their conditions differ in important waysfrom those faced by Cuba, each provides relevantexperience from which lessons can be drawn whenconsidering the Cuban process. In both cases,acceding to the IFIs was a significant turning point,in terms of both providing a boost to economicperformance and giving support to a process ofstructural transformation.Albania’s Entry into the GlobalFinancial SystemCuba and Albaniaboth emergedas independentstates in the early twentiethcentury, and spentmuch of the second halfof the century underCommunist Party rule. Inthe case of Albania, communiststook control afterplaying a leading role inliberating the countryfrom fascism in 1944and were finally ousted,amidst crisis, in 1992. InCuba, the communistgovernment that has beenin power since the 1959revolution proved moredurable and flexible, andremains in place.Before the winds of change began to blowoutside Albania’s borders with the “EuropeanSpring” of 1989, the Albanian government hadisolated itself politically and economically andhad embraced self-sufficiency as a central goalof national policy, at great economic cost. Afterthe USSR dissolved in 1991, Albania followedits Eastern European neighbors and newlyindependent former Soviet republics in joining theIMF, with broad popular support amid widespreadexpectations that economic reform and linkageswith the rest of the world would significantlyimprove the quality of life.When Albania joined the IMF in October 1991,it was not only looking for financial support butTirana’s Skanderbeg Square has transformed since 1988 as Albania began to enterthe global economy.ATLANTIC COUNCIL 11


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial Institutionsalso for assistance in designing economic reforms.To meet IMF accession requirements, Albaniahad to overcome three hurdles: weaknesses inits institutions and statistical base; the lack offamiliarity of its government and people with theglobal financial system; and the need for supportfrom other IMF members for its application.IFI Support Critical for Albania’sTransitionProtracted efforts were needed to deal withAlbania’s institutional deficiencies, knowledgegaps, and weak statistical base. TheIMF, the World Bank, the European Union (EU), andthe US government all became strong partners inproviding training and advice, with the IMF alonesending over seventy-five technical assistancemissions to Tirana during 1991-2000. Technicalassistance and training by Western institutionscovered a number of areas: fiscal, monetary, andexchange rate policies; public financial reform;bank supervision; legal foundations of a marketThe miracle of a fresh coat of paint. Soviet-era buildings got a fresh look inAlbania’s capital in the early 2000s to show a country being transformed.economy; external debt and foreign exchangereserve management; economic statistics; publicenterprise reform; and a range of sector developmentstrategies.The intensity and modalities of technicalassistance and training varied with the topic.For instance, in the areas of monetary and fiscalpolicies, exchange rate management, and statisticalsystems, the IMF and donors collaborated toprovide assistance in drafting new laws andregulations consistent with international bestpractices and the country’s situation. Expertsprovided recommendations on implementation ofthe new provisions, advice on the reorganizationor replacement of central institutions, and residentadvisers to give hands-on assistance to build staffcapacities. Technical assistance and training relatedto public enterprise reform typically began withseminars on international experiences, followed bycooperation to devise more targeted strategies forindividual sectors and firms.Albania was a rapid, early reformer. For manycountries in transition, crucial economic reforms—such as the adoptionof market-orientedprices, establishment ofbudgetary discipline, anda unified and marketdeterminedexchangerate—have been difficultto implement becauseof resistance fromentrenched interestgroups fearful of losingtheir privileges. But inAlbania, many of thesemeasures were begunduring the first year ofIMF membership. In partthis resulted from theprevious regime failingso comprehensively. Thepeople were ready for anew direction. Moreover,public support washelped by IMF and WorldMAGALIE L’ABBÉ/FLICKR12 ATLANTIC COUNCIL


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsBank assistance in the design of social transferprograms to mitigate the impact of price increaseson vulnerable groups. 5The IMF played a catalytic role, enabling thecountry to obtain sizable grants and loans fromother international donors from the beginningof its transition, along with debt relief fromcommercial banks and bilateral lenders. Withoutthe IMF’s tutelage and seal of approval, suchaccess to external resources would have beenunattainable for acountry only beginningto emerge from themost severe type ofCommunist system,with a dismal trackrecord in its previousdealings with foreigncreditors and donors.Most importantly,building on Albania’sIMF programs, theWorld Bank quicklybecame a majorconcessional lenderwhile the EU, Italy, andother donors increasedtheir grant assistance.Commercial banks and the Paris Club agreed todebt restructurings and debt reduction. During1992-96 disbursements of grants and concessionalloans totaled $1.5 billon (about $500 per capita forAlbania’s three million people), and $600 millionof external debt was cut by 60 percent, with theremainder restructured over a longer term. 6A “Win” for Albania’s PeopleReengagement with the global financialsystem and Albania’s own policy reformshave produced significant improvementsin the standard of living. A tripling of real nationalincome per capita 7 has been accompanied byimprovements in health outcomes, educationalattainment, and life expectancy. Transportationinfrastructure and public utilities have beenThe IMF playeda catalytic role,enabling Albaniato obtain sizablegrants andloans from otherinternationaldonors from thebeginning of itstransition.modernized.Nevertheless, popular expectations havesometimes exceeded what was realisticallyachievable. Economic liberalization yieldedimmediate, highly visible and broadly sharedbenefits, but the disruption of the public enterprisesector also led to a surge in unemployment thattook years to reverse. Transition in Albania wasnot seamless. A failure to address financial sectorand public enterprise reform in a timely mannercontributed to social andpolitical turmoil in 1997-98and again in 2009-13.In addition to the gainsfor Albania itself, thecountry’s membershipin the IMF has beenadvantageous for otherEuropean countries andthe United States. It was,of course, important forItaly and other Europeancountries to contain therisk of a continued largescaleflow of refugees.But benefits of Albanianintegration into the globalcommunity reach beyondthat, including cooperation in fighting cross-bordercrime, maintaining regional stability in the Balkans,and providing new opportunities for productiveinvestment.Is Albania a Lesson for Cuba?Anumber of major differences existbetween the situation of Cuba todayand Albania in the early 1990s. Cuba hasa larger population (over eleven million, comparedwith about three million in Albania) anda higher per capita income (around five timesAlbania’s in 1992). 8 Unlike Albania, Cuba is notisolated (either politically or linguistically) fromits surrounding region. The island has undergonemajor structural changes since the Soviet eraand is in the midst of a process of liberalizingATLANTIC COUNCIL 13


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsEntrepreneurs are popping up on Cuban sidewalks and street corners sincePresident Raúl Castro began to expand the small-business sector in the late 2000s.reforms. It also has an extensive system of datacollection and reporting. But transparency islacking and comprehensive distortions in theprice system create major problems in terms ofaggregation of values. Finally, Cuba was (unlikeAlbania) previously a member of the IMF (untilits withdrawal in 1964).But significant similarities offer importantlessons. Both countries threw off the yoke of animperial power in the early twentieth century, andhave experienced a long period of disconnectionfrom the international financial system.Like Albania before the collapse of theSoviet bloc, Cuba has a heavily distorted andinefficient economy, a communist government,and untapped potential for light manufacturing,service industries, and tourism development.To what extent might Albania’s experiencepresage what might be expected if Cuba were topursue economic reform and membership in theinternational financial institutions? The followingappear to be key lessons:• Reengagement islikely to yield benefitsfor Cuba and forthe rest of the world(including the UnitedStates), stemming fromnew opportunities fortrade and investment,greater regional stability,and reduced risk ofa migrant crisis.• The gains from IFImembership willdepend both on successin catalyzing otherexternal support, and(even more) on theprogress of economicreforms that improveits economic performanceand investmentclimate.•An increase in internationaleconomicintegration can accelerate the process of economicand political liberalization.• The replacement of a centrally-planned economywith one based on free markets typically needsa long period of training, education, and restructuringof public institutions. The IMF and otherexternal sources (including the US government)can play an important role in facilitating thelearning process.• Popular expectations may outrun the benefits ofreform and reintegration, especially if citizenshave limited familiarity with market mechanisms.New opportunities and improvements inthe availability of consumer goods and essentialinputs will emerge. But establishing a modernand stable financial sector, restructuring andrationalizing public enterprises, and becoming astrong international competitor will likely taketime. Improving the availability and quality ofpublic information can help to dispel uncertaintyand encourage public participation in domesticpolicy debates.KAPA123/FLICKR14 ATLANTIC COUNCIL


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsTHE VIETNAMESE EXPERIENCELUIS RUIZ TITO/FLICKREconomic liberalization in Vietnam led to a booming tourist sector and the construction of luxury hotels.Vietnam had already been revising the economic modelestablished by the Soviet Union when it rejoined theinternational financial institutions, but the process,known as Doi Moi, began in the 1980s, before the Sovietcollapse. At the time, a US embargo was still in place. In1993, seven years after initiation of Doi Moi, and whileUS policy was starting to shift, Vietnam renegotiated apending debt with the IMF and began to receive newloans from the institution. In 1994, it joined the WorldBank; the United States lifted sanctions in the same year.Since 1994, Vietnam has benefited from loans from theIMF and World Bank, and the economy has flourished.From 1995-2005 the international economic openingwidened and growth accelerated, investment increased,industrialization advanced, and household consumptionrose. Average annual GDP growth climbed above 7percent, trade grew from 56 percent to more than 100percent of GDP, and annual foreign direct investmentinflows grew from $780 million to $1.6 billion. Industryand consumption nearly doubled their growth rates.For Vietnam, cooperation with the IFIs helped toease its balance of payments constraint and fosterits access to international capital markets and globalintegration. Exports and international financing playedan important role in economic improvement. Therewere also benefits from a structural change occurringin 1995, when Vietnam first entered IFIs. Thesechanges, according to econometric estimates, haveadded 2 percent GDP to the Vietnamese annual GDPgrowth rate.That said, there are also important differencesbetween Vietnam and Cuba. In terms of GDP andeconomic development, Vietnam started from a muchlower base, and its location in Asia meant that it wasfar less affected by US sanctions than Cuba, and wasable to enjoy a strong external stimulus from the rapidgrowth of neighboring economies. The two countriesare therefore not directly comparable, although thesimilarities are sufficient to expect IFI membership tohave a positive impact on Cuba’s economic growth.ATLANTIC COUNCIL 15


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsWhy Should theUnited States SupportCuba’s Reintegration?The international community broadlysupports Cuba’s integration into theglobal economy and would welcomea decision to pursue joining the IFIs.For the United States, legal obstacles remain toacceptance of Cuban membership. 9 But Cuba’saccession to the IFIs would be consistent with thenew US policy, while demonstrating US support forCuba’s wider international engagement.International ramifications of the US-Cuban rapprochementare already apparent: in June 2015, Cubaannounced a breakthrough in negotiations with theParis Club with an agreement on debt arrears nowexpected before the end of the year. Discussionswith the European Union toward a cooperationagreement have made important progress, anda host of international politicians and businessEconomic reforms have allowed thousands of Cubans to open small craft andskill-based businesses, but the categories of permitted businesses could begreatly expanded.leaders have visited in 2015, opening the way fornew areas of cooperation, trade, and investment.What Is the Best Way to Help theCuban People?Engagement should be more successful inhelping the Cuban people than previouspolicies of isolation, particularly at a momentwhen the country is going through a process offar-reaching economic and institutional reforms.The government has acknowledged that to increasepublic-sector wages, it needs to boost the productivityof state companies and reduce a glut ofworkers in the public sector. This requires meaningfulmeasures of productivity and profitabilitythat imply decentralization of decision-making,with prices and markets replacing the old systemof centralized planning. Toslim down the public sectorwithout creating an unacceptablyhigh unemploymentrate, the Cuban governmenthas accepted the need toallow the domestic nonstatesector to grow and attractmore foreign investment.The appetite for reformis strong. After twenty-fiveyears of post-Soviet adjustmentand patchy results fromlimited reforms, there is aconsensus that the economicsystem and old institutionsrequire a fundamental overhaul.A profound sense offrustration, with real wagesremaining below 1990 levelKAPA123/FLICKR16 ATLANTIC COUNCIL


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsROBERTO STUCKERT FILHO/FLICKRBrazilian President Dilma Rousseff inaugurates the Brazil-funded Port of Mariel in Cuba with President RaúlCastro. Cuba hopes it will become the largest volume port in the Caribbean.and the pillars of the socialist model (strong health,education, and social services) deteriorating, hascreated a moment of opportunity for new ideas.The overhaul of the public sector and opening tononstate enterprise has won the enthusiastic backingof most Cubans, but not all. Engagement can helpto consolidate supportfor reform. Resistance toreform comes not onlyfrom those who fear aloss of power, status, andprivilege, but also fromeconomically vulnerablegroups whose livelihoodsmight be threatened. Thedegree of resistance willbe inversely related tothe extent to which thereform process can deliverimprovements—in wages,public services, infrastructure, a social safety netfor the vulnerable, and economic prospects for theambitious. The legitimacy of the reform process willbe reinforced by improvements in the Cuban economy.As part of this engagement, Cuban membershipin the IFIs, by supporting economic growth, wouldhelp to underpin economic reform.The IFIs’ experience of reform has involved notonly liberalization but also the construction of thenecessary institutional architecture—includingfinancing instruments and mechanisms, proceduresfor project management,monitoring andevaluation, regulatorysystems, contract laws,Cubanmembership inthe IFIs wouldsupport economicgrowth and helpto underpinreform.taxation regimes, paymentmechanisms, insurance,accountability and labor,and consumer and environmentalprotection.Solid institutions replacecentralized control witha system based on freemarkets, competition, andtransparency. The benefitsgo not only to large foreign investors but also tosmall businesses, farmers, employees, and consumers.The wider the benefits of reform are spread, themore popular they will be; once in place, reversalwill be increasingly difficult.ATLANTIC COUNCIL 17


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsRecommendations forCuba, the United States,and the InternationalFinancial InstitutionsCuba is at a moment of profound economictransformation and the openings in USpolicy—with more movement expectedfrom Congress—have recast both thebilateral relationship as well as Cuba’s broaderinternational engagement. Economic reform and fullreintegration into the global economic communitywill provide furthermomentum for a nascentCuban private sectorwhile improving the livesof everyday Cubans.Isolation is increasinglya policy of the past; Cuba,the United States, and theinternational financialinstitutions must catchup to this reality. To doso, each must rethinkoutdated policies. The endgoal is to understand thatjoining the IFIs is a criticalstep in the long-termprocess of full economicreintegration.Here are ten actions that each should take:Cuba• Cuba should examine the potential pathstoward IFI membership. Precedents providean indication of the potential benefits,as well as a guide to priorities and procedures.Full reintegrationinto the globaleconomiccommunitywill providemomentum forthe private sectorwhile improvingthe lives ofeveryday Cubans.• Progress in external debt negotiationscan help to pave the way for membership.The agreement reached with theParis Club is an important step. Reformprogress, a leadership succession, and theimprovement in US relations should help catalyzefurther progress.• Currencyreform shouldbe a priority. Ithas importantramifications both forrestructuring and theinternational integrationof the economy. The IFIsare particularly wellequippedto assist withmonetary unification.The government shouldtake advantage of thetechnical support andexpertise the IFIs canoffer.• The quality, international comparability,and transparency of Cubanmonetary and financial data will needto be improved, not only for access tothe IFIs, but also to attract more foreign directinvestment.18 ATLANTIC COUNCIL


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsDAVID SASAKI/FLICKRUnited States• The United States should give maximumleeway to the IFIs to begin confidencebuildingdiscussions and offer technicalassistance to Cuba.• Cuban membership in the IFIs shouldbe included in bilateral discussions withCuba. The various approaches suggestedin this paper provide indications of theway forward.• President Obama should make apublic statement to assert his authorityin interpreting legislation designed toobstruct Cuba’s membership in the IFIsthrough the threat of withdrawal of funds. Thispublic statement will provide the IFIs—todayhesitant about incurring US congressional disapproval—withpolitical cover to engage Cuba.• Where possible, President Obamashould work with leaders of the relevantcongressional committees toreach compromises to allow progresstoward Cuban membership of, and access tofinancing from, the IFIs. This might, for example,involve an agreement for a limited-term“truce” (through the coming presidential election)whereby Congress agrees that it will notwithdraw funds from IFIs if assistance is givento Cuba.International FinancialInstitutions• The IFIs should begin to offer technicalmissions to Cuba as was done in Albaniaand other countries re-entering the internationalfinancial system. These can begin to build a cultureof trust, and Cuba can gain an understandingof the benefits of IFI membership.• The IMF, World Bank, and the IDBshould create a steering group to beginofficially engaging the Cuban government.This steering group might be chaired byLuis Alberto Moreno, President of the IDB, aninstitution well poised to facilitate Cuba’s broaderreintegration.ATLANTIC COUNCIL 19


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsEndnotes1 Cuban National Office of Statistics and Information, 2014, http://www.one.cu/sitioone2006.asp.2 The increase in intentions to invest in Cuba was corroborated in the Cuba Standard Business Confidence Survey, applied in the firstquarter of 2015. See https://www.cubastandard.com/?page_id=12796.3 The need for sufficient fiscal resources to absorb the effects of the eventual devaluation of the official exchange rate has beenhighlighted in various studies. For example, see chapters from Augusto De la Torre and Alain Ize, “Exchange Rate Unification: TheCuban Case,” and Pavel Vidal and Omar Perez, “Monetary Reform in Cuba Leading to 2016: Between Graduation and the Big Bang,” bothin Richard Feinberg and Ted Piccone (eds), Cuba’s Economic Change in Comparative Perspective, Washington, DC, Latin AmericaInitiative Brookings Institution, 2014.4 Richard Feinberg, Reaching out: Cuba’s new economy and the international response, Brookings Institution, 2011, and Joaquin Pujol,“Membership Requirements in the IMF: Possible Implications for Cuba”, Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, 2014, http://www.ascecuba.org/c/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/v22-pujol2.pdf5 Scott Brown, Caryl McNeilly, Paul Mathieu, Caroline van Rijckeghem, and Reva Krieger, IMF Economic Review of Albania, InternationalMonetary Fund, No. 5, July 1994.6 World Bank, Albania Country Assistance Evaluation, November 2000.7 World Bank, World Development Indicators, July 2015 http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators.8 Estimates of Cuban US dollar equivalent GDP per head are hazardous, given its huge price and exchange rate distortions. Official Cubandata suggest a figure of around US$5,900. The World Bank estimate suggests a 2014 level close to US$8,000 (http://databank.worldbank.org/data/views/reports/tableview.aspx?isshared=true) and the Penn World Tables (Alan Heston, Robert Summers, andBettina Aten, Penn World Table Version 7.1, Center for International Comparisons of Production, Income and Prices at the University ofPennsylvania, November 2012; https://pwt.sas.upenn.edu/php_site/pwt_index.php) imply income per head at PPP in 2014 (in 2005prices) of over US$11,000. In constant per capita 2005 US dollar terms, the World Bank estimate suggest that Cuba’s GDP in 2014 wasaround US$5,300, compared with US$1,100 in Albania in 1992, http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators.9 The implications of the new US policy toward Cuba have been analyzed by various researchers. For example, the following works maybe consulted: Carmelo Mesa-Lago, “Normalization of relations between the US and Cuba: causes priorities, obstacles, effects anddangers,” Working Paper 6/20, Real Instituto Elcano, 2015; Ernesto Hernandez-Cata, “Preparing for a Full Restoration of EconomicRelations between Cuba and the United States”, Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, 2014; and the dossier from CubaPosible titled “Cuba and the US: Dilemmas of the Change,” February 2015, http://cubaposible.net/publicaciones?&per_page=5.20 ATLANTIC COUNCIL


Cuba’s Economic Reintegration: Begin with the International Financial InstitutionsAbout the AuthorsPavel Vidal-Alejandro (PhD) is a professor at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana inCali, Colombia. He was a professor at the Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy(CEEC) at the University of Havana (2006-2012) and worked as an analyst in theMonetary Policy Division of the Central Bank of Cuba. He received training from manycentral banks in Latin America. He has been a professor of macroeconomics andeconometrics and has worked with scholars and research institutions from variouscountries and served as a researcher at Harvard University, Columbia University, theUniversidad Complutense de Madrid, and the Institute for Developing Economies(Japan’s External Trade Organization).Scott Brown retired from the IMF staff in 2008 after working in most of the Fund’score policy areas and with more than fifty of its member countries—including anassignment as IMF mission chief for Albania in the early 1990s. During the 1970s andearly 1980s he worked at the US Department of the Treasury, the State Department,and the Federal Reserve Board. Since leaving the IMF he has served as an internationalfinancial and development consultant for bilateral donors and multilateralinstitutions.The authors would like to thank Ernesto Hernadez-Cata, Lorenzo Pérez, and Phil Petersfor their thoughtful comments on early drafts.ATLANTIC COUNCIL 21


Atlantic Council Board of DirectorsCHAIRMAN*Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.CHAIRMAN,INTERNATIONALADVISORY BOARDBrent ScowcroftPRESIDENT AND CEO*Frederick KempeEXECUTIVE VICECHAIRS*Adrienne Arsht*Stephen J. HadleyVICE CHAIRS*Robert J. Abernethy*Richard Edelman*C. Boyden Gray*George Lund*Virginia A. Mulberger*W. DeVier Pierson*John StudzinskiTREASURER*Brian C. McK. HendersonSECRETARY*Walter B. SlocombeDIRECTORSStephane AbrialOdeh AburdenePeter AckermanTimothy D. AdamsJohn AllenMichael AnderssonMichael AnsariRichard L. ArmitageDavid D. AufhauserElizabeth F. BagleyPeter Bass*Rafic Bizri*Thomas L. BlairFrancis BouchardMyron BrilliantEsther Brimmer*R. Nicholas BurnsWilliam J. Burns*Richard R. BurtMichael CalveyJames E. CartwrightJohn E. ChapotonAhmed CharaiSandra CharlesMelanie ChenGeorge ChopivskyWesley K. ClarkDavid W. Craig*Ralph D. Crosby, Jr.Nelson CunninghamIvo H. Daalder*Paula J. DobrianskyChristopher J. DoddConrado DornierThomas J. EdelmanThomas J. Egan, Jr.*Stuart E. EizenstatThomas R. EldridgeJulie FinleyLawrence P. Fisher, IIAlan H. Fleischmann*Ronald M. FreemanLaurie FultonCourtney Geduldig*Robert S. GelbardThomas Glocer*Sherri W. GoodmanMikael HagströmIan HagueJohn D. Harris, IIFrank HaunMichael V. HaydenAnnette Heuser*Karl HopkinsRobert HormatsMiroslav Hornak*Mary L. HowellRobert E. HunterWolfgang IschingerReuben Jeffery, III*James L. Jones, Jr.George A. JoulwanLawrence S. KanarekStephen R. KappesMaria Pica KarpFrancis J. Kelly, Jr.Zalmay M. KhalilzadRobert M. KimmittHenry A. KissingerFranklin D. KramerPhilip Lader*Richard L. Lawson*Jan M. LodalJane Holl LuteWilliam J. LynnIzzat MajeedWendy W. MakinsMian M. ManshaWilliam E. MayerAllan McArtorEric D.K. MelbyFranklin C. MillerJames N. Miller*Judith A. Miller*Alexander V. MirtchevObie L. Moore*George E. MooseKarl MoorGeorgette MosbacherSteve C. NicandrosThomas R. NidesFranco NuscheseJoseph S. NyeSean O’KeefeHilda Ochoa-BrillembourgAhmet Oren*Ana PalacioCarlos PascualThomas R. PickeringDaniel B. PonemanDaniel M. PriceArnold L. Punaro*Kirk A. RadkeRobert RangelTeresa M. ResselCharles O. RossottiStanley O. RothRobert RowlandHarry SachinisWilliam O. SchmiederJohn P. SchmitzBrent ScowcroftAlan J. SpenceJames StavridisRichard J.A. Steele*Paula SternRobert J. StevensJohn S. Tanner*Ellen O. TauscherKaren TramontanoClyde C. TugglePaul TwomeyMelanne VerveerEnzo ViscusiCharles F. WaldJay WalkerMichael F. WalshMark R. WarnerDavid A. WilsonMaciej WituckiNeal S. WolinMary C. YatesDov S. ZakheimHONORARY DIRECTORSDavid C. AchesonMadeleine K. AlbrightJames A. Baker, IIIHarold BrownFrank C. Carlucci, IIIRobert M. GatesMichael G. MullenLeon E. PanettaWilliam J. PerryColin L. PowellCondoleezza RiceEdward L. RownyGeorge P. ShultzJohn W. WarnerWilliam H. Webster*Executive Committee MembersList as of July 6, 201522 ATLANTIC COUNCIL


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